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South East receive Federal support for festivals, art , sporting events and a coast walks

Music festivals, art installations, sporting events and a coastal headland walking trail are among 95 projects to receive a share in more than $7 million in Federal funding support for communities in fire-affected regions across Australia. In the South East the following grants have been awarded:

At present there are no details known of the Eurobodalla projects however it would appear that Eurobodalla Tourism might be putting in place copy-cat projects that are already well established in Bega and Shoalhaven with headland walks and foodie trails such as the highly successful Shoalhaven Food Trail It is not surprising that Eurobodalla looks to Bega and the Shoalhaven for ideas as they see those regions embrace and support mountain biking, food trails and even murals as street art as is the excellent examples set by Nowra and the Bega Valley Mural Prize is a prize specifically for artists living and working in the Bega Valley Shire.

Above: The Face of A WWII Veteran by artist Claire Foxton

Wollongong artist Claire Foxton's mural on the wall of Nowra's Holt Centre building tells the story of local air force veteran Narelle Hart. Narelle has been a Nowra local for over 70 years and served as a young recruit with the Base Torpedo Unit in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during World War II. Foxton's piece aims to honour a strong woman who has made a significant contribution to the community's history. Her artwork combines a realistic portrait with a colourful and abstract background, giving the piece a sense of fun and playfulness. This is currently one of the largest Nowra murals to date and well worth checking out in person.

This is the third funding announcement under the $10 million Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program, following $825,000 for 34 events and projects announced since June to encourage visitors back into fire-affected communities.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said that these vital grants will have positive impacts for bushfire-affected communities.

“We committed to stick with bushfire affected communities for their long recovery journey and these grants are one very important support mechanism to get tourists back to affected areas – boosting local economies,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Importantly, the government recognised that COVID-19 would have an impact on tourists returning to some areas – so the timeline for successful applicants to use their funding has been extended.

“I would urge every Australian to consider taking a regional holiday in a bushfire affected area. We know some of these areas were hit with drought, bushfires and then COVID-19. Australians can assist in the recovery of these areas by holidaying in these locations when they can.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the program was vital to helping the recovery efforts of fire-affected communities that relied heavily on tourism.

“Regional tourism businesses have been doing it incredibly tough following the impact of bushfires, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These grants will go towards revitalising a range of events that had otherwise been postponed or cancelled, as well as the development of new experiences that will encourage visitors.

“This program is crucial to helping these affected communities back on their feet and putting tourism dollars back into the regions as recovery efforts continue.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism Jonno Duniam said the grants would help to revive the regional tourism industry.

“There are many regional businesses that were hit hard by the catastrophic summer bushfires and the COVID 19 pandemic,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“A number of events in fire-affected regions were postponed or cancelled due to travel restrictions forced by the pandemic.

“As restrictions begin to ease, these grants will help communities get back on their feet by supporting local jobs and local economies.”

The Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program forms part of the Morrison Government's $76 million bushfire tourism recovery package to help get the tourism industry back on its feet.

The grants program is funded as part of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency Fund and is being administered by Austrade. Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP said of the grants: "It’s been a torrid time for people on the NSW South Coast, first with drought, then catastrophic bushfires, floods and COVID-19.

"Through that time, individuals, businesses and our entire community have faced, and continue to face, enormous challenges.

"Our tourism and event operators, and their workers, have been hit hard time and time again. With such a heavy reliance on tourism across the South Coast, the Member for Gilmore, said it was clear early on that urgent support to keep the local economy going was needed.

“I have continually called for more funding to support our tourism and event operators after the bushfires,” Mrs Phillips said. 

“Over many many months, I have been vocal in asking where the tourism funding for bushfire recovery is – and why it has not hit the ground on the South Coast”, she continued.

“Tourism and event operators said they needed help months ago to aid in their recovery, and keep our economy going.” 

“I am pleased some funding has finally been announced to help some local tourism operators and events, although it is long overdue," Mrs Phillips said.

“Sadly, we are now in the situation where some of these local events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, so I hope the government will continue to support these local operators when their event is rescheduled.” 

“I will continue to advocate on behalf of tourism and event operators to ensure they get the help they need, when they need it,” she concluded.

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