Are we ready? Narooma prepares to welcome visitors

In less than a fortnight, the shire's doors will open up to visitors as COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

The NSW government announced recreational and regional travel within the state would be allowed from June 1. Narooma Chamber of Commerce president Di Riley had mixed emotions.

"I felt relief and excitement but was a little apprehensive as I know we are going to get hammered down here," Ms Riley said.

"My first thought was to make sure businesses were ready."

Ms Riley said the chamber would host a meeting with businesses and offer support.

She said the community's response to the easing of travel restrictions was "very mixed".

A birdseye view of the Wagonga Inlet, Narooma. Picture: Shona McDonald.

A birdseye view of the Wagonga Inlet, Narooma. Picture: Shona McDonald.

"Some are staying it's too early, and I kind of think the same," she said.

"However, being a business woman myself, I understand the impact on businesses that's happening along the coast after bushfires and now this [pandemic].

"It has been really tough; if we don't open soon businesses might close permanently and it will be disastrous."

She hoped visitors and locals alike respected social distancing rules and practised the government's health advice to keep coronavirus at bay.

Ms Riley said the Job Keeper payment scheme had been the "lifeline" for many small businesses.

"People who aren't associated with small businesses don't understand how tough it has been - we are just riding with it at the moment," she said.

Ms Riley predicted a boom in tourism once travel restrictions eased. She hoped the community was welcoming.

"We need to be kind, band together and invite tourists back," she said.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council has taken the opportunity to promote the region as a "must-visit destination".

The council is developing a website to enable local residents and businesses to personally invite family, friends and customers to visit.

Eurobodalla Tourism manager Tim Booth said photographers were busy capturing the shire's beauty.

"In-between bushfires and COVID-19, we had three photographers go out and capture 70 separate locations to showcase the destination and how much beauty still remains," Mr Booth said.

"We have been working to develop this into a website where local residents and businesses will be able to send iPostcards to their loved ones and customers to invite them to come and stay.

"We know that isolation has been hard for a lot of our residents and we are wanting them to invite their family and friends to come and visit now travel restrictions are lifting.

"The platform has been built to work across email and social media platforms and will be launching soon."

Eurobodalla Tourism has also had videographers on the ground, capturing businesses and experiences, ready for promotion now that travel is permitted within NSW.

Mr Booth said there's more to come, but acknowledges there is a balance to be struck.

Winter sunset skies over the Narooma Bridge. Picture: Shona McDonald.

Winter sunset skies over the Narooma Bridge. Picture: Shona McDonald.

"Just like after the fires, we understand some members of our community may not feel ready for visitors returning," he said.

"It's also important we support local businesses and start to rebuild our economy. We'll be easing back into our promotions and the visiting friends and relatives campaign is a good place to start."

While acknowledging the tough times facing businesses hit by both bushfires and the coronavirus, Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes was proud of the shire's response.

"Tourism and hospitality businesses have shown their resilience and resourcefulness in dealing with unprecedented change and uncertainty," Mayor Innes said.

"I'm constantly amazed by their positivity and commitment to their customers and the shire.

"We want them to know council is in their corner and we're ready to capture our share of what is expected to be a booming domestic tourism trade when restrictions lift."

During the shutdown, Eurobodalla Tourism upgraded its website, showcasing individual pages for each business, CLICK HERE.

Businesses wanting to ensure they are featured on Eurobodalla Tourism's website, Visit NSW and Australia.com, should have an Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) listing - which is free for all businesses in the tourism industry.

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