Council recognises that it has a significant role to play in supporting local businesses and residents during the ongoing period of uncertainty caused by the Greater Sydney Area lockdown.
Council’s Tourism and Economic Development Teams are actively working to support the tourism sector and businesses impacted by the downturn in tourism to the Shire. These initiatives include the following:
- Regular industry and community updates and social media posts including information ranging from COVID19 supports, capacity building webinars, small business support initiatives, Bowral business support, visitor experience campaign reports and planning for tourism industry recovery.
- The Destination Southern Highlands Share the Love Campaign continues to focus on promoting online shopping from local businesses, purchase of gift vouchers and packs to self plus friends and family in lockdown.
- A reactivated Faces of the Southern Highlands campaign with an initial focus on Bowral businesses.
- The annual Destination publication promoting the Southern Highlands, has been distributed to local businesses for initial promotion to locals and in preparation for renewed visitation once COVID19 restrictions are eased.
- The Welcome Centre retains a significant customer service concierge function managing resident, visitor and business enquiries; The physical premises remain temporarily closed as a disincentive to travellers.
- As COVID19 restrictions ease, accommodation, hospitality and visitor experiences will benefit from staged visitor attraction campaigns; initially Escape and later, a Freedom campaign.
- Council hosted Hospitality Skills Forums to assist businesses navigate the complex training environment and access free courses and apprenticeship advice in order to meet workforce skills deficiencies. Planning is in place for similar forums relating to Manufacturing and Construction.
- Individualised support to Bowral businesses directly impacted by the recent fire have the support of a Council Concierge, with all businesses visited in person, contact information recorded and regular updates and support provided.
- Contact information continues to be collected as useful a resource for informing businesses of opportunities for participation in campaigns to support business generation including but not limited to Council’s Share the Love campaign, Tulip Time and Christmas; and externally provided events such as the Bowral Classic and Bong Bong Picnic Races.
- A Council grant is assisting the Creatives Industry Cluster to build a Directory of Services in the Southern Highlands to promote and grow this industry sector.
- Working in partnership with local Chambers of Commerce, peak bodies, business networks, Federal and State government agencies in sourcing, informing and providing supports for businesses. Businesses in the Shire directly benefit from Council’s agreement with Service NSW Doing Better Business and the Small Business Commission’s Small Business Friendly Council program.
- Partnering with the University of Wollongong iAccelerate regional innovation program, delivering education programs in support of 90 entrepreneurs and business owners to create 300 new jobs.
- Updating and refreshing the popular Southern Highlands walking trails information, which will benefit both residents and visitors.
Community Support Measures
Council will continue to work with inter-agencies and community organisations to understand the impacts of COVID19 on the Shire’s residents and will work together to advocate for additional support measures to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the community.
Council will also continue to assist with connecting concerned residents with appropriate support services.
Council has kick-started a COVID-19 Financial Relief Package that’s designed to help Highland residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The relief package includes a six-month deferment of rates and charges (includes water and sewerage accounts) for eligible businesses, households, community and sporting groups, who meet the eligibility requirements of Council’s adopted Financial Hardship Policy.
Council will also undertake a 28 day public notification period in relation to the suspension of all interest on overdue rates for the period 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2021. The public notification will be carried out in accordance with Section 356 of Local Government Act 1993.