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How effective are the Love the Bay vouchers

Tonight the Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber will be hosting a Special Round Table Chamber Meeting at South Coast Colleges to brainstorm an effective path forward. The Chambers' brief is Business and Tourism therefore, you might assume, that a Special Round Table Meeting will be focused on exactly that ..... Business and Tourism. As we all know tourism has taken a hammering over the last ten weeks and as a consequence our local businesses have been directly and indirectly affected. On December 4th 2019 the Love The Bay initiative was launched. At the time there were no bushfires, a bumper tourism season was expected and the region was filled with anticipation. So why was it launched? Why did the Bay need Love on December 4th? Love the Bay is described as a Local Pride Campaign and was established in November 2019 as a Partnership between Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber with John

Holland, and support of the Eurobodalla Shire Council The three established a Working Group and used collective resources to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate a local pride campaign commissioning a marketing agency to assist. Their's was a straight forward task that had a Project scope that simply said "Regardless of the bridge construction program ahead, Batemans Bay is now, and will remain, open for business." The intent was to turn any perceived negatives about the bridge construction into positives for the region while minimising disruption and maximising opportunities. Project objectives were to maintain or boost local residents’ engagement with Batemans Bay businesses, particularly those most impacted by the bridge (note this is long before the fires). With the disruption of the new bridge the campaign was to also boost the image of Batemans Bay as a destination where people want to spend their money (stay, shop, undertake activities) while for locals it was to celebrate where we live. The intention of the three partners in creating the Love the Bay initiative in November 2019 was to spin disruptive activities such as construction of the new bridge or the MacKay Park

Aquatic and Arts Centre so that they would be seen instead as positive progress and to encourage instead inspired conversations of what the future of the Bay will look like. While the three partners were fully aware of the unavoidable impacts of road closures, congestion and inconvenience was taking place the campaign was also established to offset these disruptions by encouraging a conversation about how growth will provide new social, economic and community building opportunities for the Bay. In essence the Love The Bay campaign, launched in early December, prior to the summer holidays, was all about utilising the ‘positive people power’ in the community, arming them with visions and responses, facilitating an understanding of the importance of their role in the program and encouraging people to participate for the Love of the Bay. In December the Love The Bay campaign was a simple one - it had a hash tag of #lovethebayBB, asocial media presence, some banners and some stickers And then came the fires. On January 15th 2020 the local Business & Tourism Chamber’s “Love the Bay” local pride campaign was stepped up launching a new initiative with the launch of the Love the Bay Gift Card. The Chamber website states "With the approval of our Chamber executive, and the support of our campaign partner John Holland and Eurobodalla Council, this initiative capitalises on the success of the Love the Bay campaign, particularly its social following which has been growing healthily every day. There are however no details that define exactly what the support "of our campaign partner John Holland and Eurobodalla Council" is. Undertaking a commitment to launch into cards that are tied to banks, money transactions and set up fees for the organisers would require responsible financial management. But by who and at whose cost?

The Love the Bay Gift Card. FAQ sheet it states: Are there any costs involved in participating as a business? No, there are no costs for you at all, this program has been fully sponsored by Love the Bay BB By the above statement it is apparent that the Chamber has a financial role and obligation in the initiative. What do we know about the cards? They are run by a company called "Why Leave Town" based in Narrabri. The Card is valid for three (3) years from the date of activation. The card cannot be used after expiry and cannot be replaced. Of interest is the fact that, at expiry, the remaining balance will be forfeited. Yes, any card that is charged up with a donation and not extinguished or only partly extinguished will see the residue forfeited. This simply means that a third party will get the money. It is not known who that might be. While initiated through Why leave Town it appears that the Card is issued by EML Payment Solutions Limited. EML advise that anyone using the cards can "Gain valuable insight into your gift card program’s performance with a number of financial, transaction, and merchant reports." If that is the case then the Bay Chamber, who advise they fully sponsor the card, should be able to offer to its members and the public a report at any point in time of:


The total that has been committed to activated cards? What residue of unspent cards remain? How many businesses benefited directly by redeemed vouchers? With figures such as the above the Special Round Table Chamber Meeting should be able to determine the effectiveness of the voucher scheme, who of the 128 businesses were the beneficiaries and whether it is a model that might transfer to Moruya and elsewhere on the South Coast.

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