This week sees the determination by key tourism operatives in the Eurobodalla to form an independent group that will advocate for the local tourism industry at both a Local and State level. The group, currently considering calling itself the Eurobodalla Tourism Alliance (ETA) will look to develop additional tools and resources to help local tourism operators. One consideration is to provide support to the newly established South Coast Travel Guide website which is becoming the new go-to tourism website for the region as it proactively includes and promotes all tourism related businesses . A spokesperson for the group told The Beagle "The South Coast Travel Guide website, established on a shoestring budget, is already the number one recommended website to visitors to the area by local tourism operators" "While it is a terrific website the fact that it had to come about because the Eurobodalla Tourism website misses the mark completely is unfortunate". "Our businesses were getting no traffic at all from the Eurobodalla Tourism website" "With their tourism budget of $1.5 million a year we weren't seeing any of it coming through our doors". "Visitors are smarter now. We ask ours how they heard of the area and they say things like we saw it on Instagram or Pintrest. They book tours direct on our website and do the same with accommodation, mainly staying at Air BnB's or local hotels. "The old fashioned Visitor Centre has been replaced by a smart phone and even our older visitors are internet savvy. They need information, they want good information and they know how to find it. "We've had to change the way we promote ourselves using social media and a listing with Destination NSW is only one of many places a business needs to advertise with Tripadvisor coming in a close second and Booking.com if you are an accommodation provider. "The Eurobodalla Tourism monopoly has gone by the by and businesses can't rely on a single portal. "For some time we have felt that our informed opinions have been ignored." "We have tried to alert Council about the loss of beds in the Eurobodalla due to the advent of Stayz and Air BnB and the result of that impact on existing accommodation providers being able to refinance to improve their premises. Batemans Bay as an example has lost a concerning percentage of its walk-in holiday accommodation to the mum-and-dad rentals"
"We want to extend the ETA to include representatives from all aspects of our local tourism industry, from Air BnBers, caravan parks, hotels, from tour companies to local attractions and from hatted restaurants right down to the local fish and chip shops because everyone of them plays a vital role in our industry and they are all employers. "We also want to include representatives from the local business chambers because they know business and they know local business. Their opinion is also vital as their members also play a vital role in our tourism industry providing trades and services. "We believe that following the abandonment of the Eurobodalla Council's Tourism and Business Advisory groups it has left Council devoid of informed local on-the-ground input. "This has led to some highly questionable decisions being made by council staff regarding long term planning of key infrastructure like the Batemans Bay Marina and Moruya airport as an example." "The Council appears to be fixated on Batemans Bay and have even stated that it is to be the new regional hub which is concerning for those in the tourism industry south who are quickly feeling the effect of the re-focus "This year the Moruya Chamber of Commerce discovered that Moruya had been dropped from the annual Eurobodalla Tourism Holiday Planner and was now also downgraded on the tourism website as they had no contributing businesses to cover the costs of publication" "They were more than surprised to discover that in order to exist in a holiday planner as a primary town in the region you had to pay" The spokesperson, in conclusion, told The Beagle "Once all the key players are able to come together the ETA will begin its campaign to establish an independent representation for tourism and associated businesses to then seek out grant funding and to gain the ear of State tourism agencies."
Above: The new comprehensive website that is to be encouraged and supported by the newly formed Eurobodalla Tourism Alliance wanting to ensure all aspects and participants in the local tourism industry are best represented