Welcome to this week’s Editorial,
With 2019 nearly behind us we can now look forward to 2020 and wonder what is in store for the Eurobodalla. It is inevitable that discussion around the recent fires will be on the table and with those discussions will come the reiteration of the dependency that the Eurobodalla has on the Princes Highway and the Kings Highway (that we learn today will be closed for another month).
While the financial consequences from the seasonal losses are still to be measured it is inevitable that the many smaller businesses, reliant on the peak season injection to get them through the lean times, will be forced to close. And with those closures will come the domino effect of empty commercial space and fewer jobs to go around as the community shop more on line and rely less on local providers, as has been the case with Target and now possibly Harris Scarfe to follow.
2020 will be a time to reflect on what we can learn of our evident fragility that has us so dependent on tourism. The South Coast has always been a summer destination, days by the sea, fishing, lazing under cooling south easterly winds with afternoon snoozes or a board game with the kids. We have traditionally been a low budget destination where inland families can enjoy a holiday that doesn’t demand great outlays.
Once we had a coastline that was well appointed with camping grounds, filled to the brim each year with tents and ease. But these grounds have been steadily replaced with self contained bungalows that now have to compete with discounted Air BnB’s and holiday rentals. Even caravans are being pushed aside.
2019 saw Eurobodalla rebrand itself to “All kinds of Natural” and for many looking towards the shire in the lead up to the holidays there may well have been too much “All kinds of Natural” for them to cope with. The nature of having two primary roads in and out with the Princes Highway and Kings Highway left many apprehensive that they might end up stuck on the ‘wrong side’. Then there was the reality that, should they arrive, they might be cornered into a coastal town with just one way in and out to the highway through deep forest. Added to the trepidation mix was the ever-present dense smoke that draped the region; along with the continued reporting by Live Traffic, Fires near Me and the National media. Each accurately updated prospective visitors of what they might expect to find if they decided to continue with their holiday plans.
Hopefully in 2020 there will be a round table discussion around the devastation to the region, both environmentally and fiscally. Hopefully there will be discussions also around our own readiness to cope and deal with the incredible fires our neighbours have already endured. This is an Emergency, environmentally, emotionally and financially, and it has been caused by climate that has dried our forests to a crisp. Hopefully 2020 might see our leaders acknowledge this and be proactive in how we might best prepare for the outcomes. Our State, in Emergency, affects us all and the days of procrastination are gone. Until next, Lei