Blue Mountains Tourism (BMT) will create more than 1000 local jobs and re-introduce the destination to the world through a $2.609 million bushfire recovery grant.
The grant was announced on Thursday [July 1, 2021] under round two of Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Funding.
Jointly funded by the Federal and State governments, the program supports social and economic recovery in regional communities most affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.
Blue Mountains Tourism, as the leading tourism authority in the region, will administer and manage the Blue Mountains Visitor Economy Revitalisation Project, a two-year destination management program that will reinstate the Blue Mountains as a key tourist destination in NSW and Australia.
It will involve destination branding, marketing, website development, major events, industry communications and a business resilience program.
BMT will deliver the project in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council, which will deliver the industry development and branding component.
The Blue Mountains was one of the hardest hit regions in the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires with a loss of 2500 jobs and $341 million to the local economy, not including environmental and social impacts of the devastating fires.
The fires were followed by the Covid-19 pandemic which further decimated the tourism industry which, even now, is struggling to recover from a lack of consumer confidence, border closures and lockdowns.
Blue Mountains Tourism president Jason Cronshaw said tourism, as the second largest employer in the region with more than 3000 jobs (16 per cent), was critical to the Mountains economy.
``This funding is recognition of the Blue Mountains’ key part in Australia’s tourism offering and that it needs help to get back on its feet.’’
The project was expected to create more than 1000 local jobs and bring more than 500,000 visitors back to the region.
He thanked the State and Federal governments for ``providing this lifeline to the people of the Blue Mountains, given that so many rely on tourism and its supplier industries for their livelihoods’’.
With the project set to deliver a new consumer brand for the Blue Mountains (lead by the council), the VisitBluemountains.com.au website upgrade, a new CovidSafe destination event, as well as a 24-month rolling marketing campaign, the Blue Mountains will be well placed to compete with other destinations nationally and internationally once borders re-open.
To support the industry through the next 24 months, the grant will support an ongoing industry communications initiative and the council will roll out the Building Better Business Program for Tourism Operators.
Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said: ``A strong Blue Mountains tourism sector is vital for our local economy and the last 18 months have been incredibly challenging for our tourism operators.
``It’s the big attractions, but also the small businesses that dot our main streets, that desperately need visitors.
``Council looks forward to partnering with Blue Mountains Tourism to roll out this destination management program as soon as possible, as it will retain and create new jobs in our city and build resilience.’’
Blue Mountains Tourism is delighted to deliver this project in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council and the NSW and Federal governments, which will encourage the industry to grow and adapt, enhance the Blue Mountains’ strong community spirit and facilitate self-reliance to withstand and recover from the bushfires and pandemic.