THE Shoalhaven has again missed out on a chance to attract further business opportunities and residents to the area, according to Shoalhaven councillor Andrew Guile.
Cr Guile said council should be using the busy tourist season to promote the economic benefits of living and working in the Shoalhaven to visitors, in line with a 2013 resolution to do so.
“People want to holiday here and they want to live here,” Cr Guile said.
“But it seems that we just cannot be bothered telling them how they can make the Shoalhaven their home and realise the aspirations they have for their families and businesses.
“Council resolved to use the 2014 tourism season to promote the economic benefits of living and working in the area, but still nothing has been done to deliver this program with yet another year of opportunity lost to our local economy.”
Cr Guile said the marketing program should promote to visitors the benefits of affordable land, improved transport infrastructure, an available workforce, educational opportunities and excellent regional health services.
“Tourism and economic development still function separately in council and even with 12 months’ notice there is still no campaign to put the positives of what the Shoalhaven offers to business owners and families when our population triples to over 300,000 people over the summer holidays.
“There is nothing once again to promote the region as a permanent family and business destination to our captivated audience.”
He said when he raised the matter a year ago it prompted Mayor Joanna Gash to issue a mayoral minute.
“I got into trouble and condemned for my comments as not being positive for council, yet at the same meeting we carried the resolution to promote the benefits of the area during the holidays,” he said.
“The only new marketing program from this council is the ratepayer funded mayor’s newsletter which is more about political campaigning than providing information.”
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said the Shoalhaven had been extremely proactive during the tourist influx.
“I think the area displays what it has on offer, tourists can enjoy the services we have here, they can see the potential and council has been proactive in bringing people to the area,” she said.
“They can see the infrastructure taking place.
“Development applications are coming in which shows we are definitely open for business.
“We are not sitting on our hands doing nothing – we are being proactive.
“We have some great events in the area at the moment like Ice Escape, which is already proving popular.
“Tourist operators like the dolphin cruises are reporting being extremely busy.
“We have a new tourist officer in place and we have other things in the pipeline, things are happening all the time.
“In the last year we resealed 29km of local roads and that has certainly got to help people coming to the area.
“I would like to see some of the things Cr Guile would like us to do.
“It is easy to criticise from the armchair on the sideline. Get in, get active and do something about it.”
‘With work, we would move here in a second’
By ADAM WRIGHT
A RANDOM survey of a few visitors to the Shoalhaven revealed they know very little about the region’s economic situation but find its pace and beauty a powerful drawcard.
The people we spoke to listed employment as their first priority, indicating if there were more opportunities for work they would seriously consider moving to the Shoalhaven.
If the Howden and Jurd families from Sydney could secure good jobs in the Shoalhaven they would most likely move here “in a second”.
“Actually my husband Matt would move here in a second if he could get work,” Kathryn Jurd said, while holidaying by the beach at Huskisson.
“We normally travel north of Sydney for holidays; this is our first time holidaying south. We have been here for a week and have loved it.
“It’s great for the kids.
“Our travel time to work in Sydney is one hour, 45 minutes. I think the lifestyle here would be nice.”
Mrs Jurd’s friend Carly Howden had similar thoughts.
“You line my husband up with a job and it’s done,” she said.
“I like the coastal lifestyle, it’s a lot easier.
“You can cope with less money if the expenses are less,” she said.
Steve and Rebecca Klarich from Campbelltown said work was the drawcard they would require to move to the Shoalhaven.
“We are both trained in manufacturing.”
The family is holidaying near Huskisson and said after seeing how busy the town was they spoke about setting up a business.
“We saw how busy the only bakery was and thought another bakery might be a viable business.
“A lot of people visit this area. They need to come up with a way to get people to invest.
“Really for us the number-one thing is we would need good jobs to come to. Secondly we would be looking at what is going to be available for our children in the long term. What opportunities will they have when they grow up?” Mr Klarich said.