It has been a rocky year, but the South Coast is turning that to its advantage.
A tourism brand - Narooma Rocks - has been launched by the company that delivers the region's flagship event, the Narooma Oyster Festival.
The company plans to claim bragging rights as Rock Oyster Country, building on the success of the annual oyster festival by delivering year-round events to drive food and oyster tourism and grow employment in the region.
"We are taking the best parts of the Narooma Oyster Festival and delivering these as bespoke events and immersive visitor experiences throughout the year," Narooma Rocks Chair, Mrs Cath Peachey, said.
"We are harnessing our natural assets - our world-class oysters, incredible local harvests, passionate producers, our rich Aboriginal cultural history and our landscape that makes this stretch of coastline unmistakably Rock Oyster Country," Mrs Peachey said.
Organisers said experiencing quality local produce is a major factor in holiday destination decision making and this demand for quality local produce is what Narooma Rocks is tapping into.
"Visitors are seeking more immersive, small-scale and interactive food experiences that encourage them to get hands on at mealtimes and also offer an opportunity to meet and engage with locals. We will be giving visitors the authentic food experiences they crave while educating them about oyster merroir and why NSW South Coast oysters are the best," Mrs Peachey said.
Following the horrific year faced by NSW South Coast businesses with the COVID-19 pandemic on the back of last summer's bushfires, the need for year-round tourism offerings is more important than ever, organisers said.
Due to COVID-19 event bans this year's oyster festival did not going ahead as planned. The Narooma Rocks board used the down time to develop an event strategy with a program of activities to promote Narooma, its regional neighbours and the South Coast oyster industry.
"The annual Narooma Oyster Festival will still be our flagship event, with plans for the 2021 festival well underway for the weekend of 1 May 2021," Mrs Peachey said.
"However, one of the great lessons from the bushfires for summer tourism towns like Narooma, is we need to give people a reason to come all year round. We hope Narooma Rocks can play a role in contributing to that."
The event strategy includes the oyster festival as the headline act alongside a seasonally inspired destination dining series launching early next year. The plan also involves a roving oyster bar that sells multi-estuary rock oyster tasting plates and aspires to hosting a state food tourism conference.
Narooma Rocks is the trading name of Narooma Oyster Festival Limited, a not-for-profit company established in 2019 with a voluntary skills-based Board.
For more information go to www.naroomarocks.com. Tickets for the 2021 Narooma Oyster Festival are on sale now from www.naroomaoysterfestival.com.