NSW Opposition’s plans to boost ski season and local tourism

NSW Opposition Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Investment & Tourism & Medical Research Jenny Aitchison has responded in detail to the same questions we put to Deputy Premier John Barilaro for Saturday’s Season-still-in-limbo feature.

Let’s get back into this sooner, not later © Carmen Price

Snow Action put some key questions to State Governments in NSW and Victoria, and the NSW Opposition, to explain their positions on why and when we will have some clarity on a ski season this winter. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced yesterday that the season can go ahead there from June 22. In Victoria stakeholders are now seeking clarity on what they have to do to comply.

Shadow Minister Jenny Aitchison’s detailed response is here – detailing a more pro-active approach to that we have seen from the government so far.

1/ Do you favour releasing a clear timeline for ski resorts to open?

Yes. We know that the snowfields are one of NSW’s most important regional attractions, particularly as overseas travel is not an option at this time. With New Zealand and Victoria both having announced reopening preparations, and Victoria ready to extend their existing snow offering with a move to overnight visitation from 22 June, NSW is now behind the other key snow tourism destinations.  

While we must all be guided by the health advice, the Government needs to provide some clear time frames for the tourism industry to aim for, and clarity for both operators and tourists, particularly for the state’s ski fields.

Steve Crazy finds some iso space above Perisher © Owain Price

NSW Labor has called on the NSW Government to provide a number of initiatives to make the re-opening of the NSW tourism industry successful including:

·       Clarity around restrictions that will be imposed on regional tourism operators, and what kind of experience tourists can expect;

·       A comprehensive marketing campaign and resources to help operators to re-open in such a short time frame;

·       A dedicated information hotline for tourism operators to access government health and business advice;

·       Resources for roadside services, and rest stops to reopen whilst adhering to social distancing;

·       Clear information on public transport options, and clarity on how social distancing and screening rules will be applied across transport modes; and

·       Increased assistance for marketing and infrastructure redevelopment of assets burnt in the bushfires.

This is particularly crucial for snow tourism operators as they are so vertically integrated with accommodation, transport and food and beverage operations, and there will be logistical issues in ensuring the seasonal workforce and supplies are in place for the beginning of the season.

2/ Or if not, why not?

N/A

3/ And again if not, how do you expect businesses to be ready and bear the extra burden of the uncertainty on top of everything else?

NSW Labor has called on the NSW Government to provide certainty and clarity to tourism operators and the public.

We saw pubs and clubs given two days’ notice they could open in mid-May, after the Premier saying that the re-opening was absolutely not on the cards just two days earlier.

Now people have been told they can travel from 1 June 2020, but still, with just over a week to go, there is no clear advice about when and how snow tourism can reopen.

In Victoria, the Government has given specific advice regarding snow sports and travel to the snowfields allowing day trips to the ski fields, and they have now set a hard date for their opening as 22 June 2020.

4/ Why not start with a local opening for a week or two in June – for locals to Cooma &/or ACT (which has no cases) ahead of the school holidays – so any potential problems, and inevitable teething problems for COVID safe measures being instituted – can be put to the test and adjusted.

The NSW Government should have advanced discussions with snowfields operators on the details of a reopening so that everyone is clear on the guidelines going forward.

Any plans to open should have been progressed with industry well before now.

When I speak to tourism operators across the state, and across different tourism offerings, they are disappointed by the lack of leadership shown by the Government on tourism in NSW.

They have told me they feel they have been abandoned by the Government.

We must always put health first, but if industry has a plan for safe local openings, the Government should be listening to them.

This all sounds very reasonable to us.

As one major local ski shop owner commented on our social feed,

“If they leave the decisions any longer you won’t be able to get staff. It takes months to prepare a business for the season. You just don’t open the doors and start trading. They should have been giving us more information rather than us having to listen to all the rumours. A time line is necessary! Caos will prevail and there will be a lot of unhappy tourists around. This can be avoided.”

COVID-19 is a risk; most weekend warriors are used to takiing risks .. © Owain Price