As travel conditions remain variable, Australians are making plans to explore their home states with fresh eyes.
These intra-state holidays can play a huge role in the recovery of local businesses, which is why Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) CEO Peter Strong says going local first is incredibly important, especially right now.
“It’s not just keeping businesses open,” says Strong. “It’s keeping the diversity of our communities.”
According to research from COSBOA, 63% of Australians said they wouldn’t leave their local area to travel for Christmas. Just over a quarter of Australians remained unsure if they would leave their local area.
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SmartCompany spoke to two regional Australian small businesses about their recovery from 2020 and why it’s so crucial to stay and shop local to support small businesses on your next domestic holiday.
When shopping in 2021, choose to shop with your local small businesses. They were there for us during lockdowns and now’s our chance to give back and send them into the new year on a high. Supporting local small businesses means supporting local jobs and your local community. Go Local First today!
Old Kempton Distillery, Tasmania
In a quaint colonial town full of 19th century charm, just 45 minutes from Hobart or two hours from Launceston lies a stunning 1842 mansion that’s now home to Old Kempton Distillery.
There you’ll find a well-stocked cellar door, $10 cocktails, free mini tastings over the bar and live music on the weekends.
However, in a world of COVID-19 restrictions, the spacious function room now sits almost empty.
“Our function room used to be able to hold 140 comfortably, with the square meterage rules we can have 20. It’s not really a function when it’s 20 people,” says Erin Cole, Old Kempton’s cellar door manager.
Cole has worn many different hats at the distillery during her five year tenure.
In addition to her official role she also handles marketing, social media, functions, staff training and more.
Cole says COVID-19 dealt a swift blow to the distillery when the industry was shut down for six weeks in early 2020.
“I feel the worst for the casual staff who lost all their hours and couldn’t claim JobKeeper at the time until they changed some of the rules,” says Cole.
Luckily, Old Kempton’s strong base of supportive customers have helped the business emerge strong on the other side of the crisis.
Cole says visits from Tasmanian and Australian holidaymakers will be key to the business’ continued recovery as strict capacity limits hinder them from hosting their usual large events.
“I think our biggest issue is honestly just trying to get people off the highway,” Cole laughs.
“I’ve been all over Australia, but Tasmania blows my mind. There are so many small businesses that not only need your support, but you’re the one getting the benefits out of it because they’re amazing! They’re all different, they’ve all got something good to offer.”
Daylesford Day Spa, Victoria
Benny Pettersson has owned Daylesford Day Spa with his partner for the past three years and has been part of the local business community for seven.
The spa is one of Daylesford’s first traditional day spas offering a full range of treatments including massages and facials.
Pettersson is quick to sing Daylesford’s praises, citing the mineral springs, art galleries and wineries as well as the town’s proximity to Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo.
Passionate about wellness and beauty both inner and outer, Pettersson says the COVID-19 shutdown was very emotional, however he’s happy to say the business is now thriving again.
“Telling staff that we had to let them go and we’ll stand them down… That’s really, really hard to do,” says Pettersson
“We had $20-$30,000 worth of cancellations when it first happened which was really painful.”
Now, however the business is doing great, thanks to lots of support from Victorians looking for a local getaway.
“Now it’s actually really good, demand for services and what we do and anything in Daylesford really has skyrocketed,” says Pettersson.
He urges people to keep shopping and holidaying locally to ensure regional centres that rely on tourism can survive and thrive in the future.
“I think, to rediscover what you have in your own backyard is important because there’s so much here and people forget about it,” says Pettersson.
“Daylesford without the tourists wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Peter Strong echoes Pettersson’s sentiment. “Australians really do understand the need to support local,” he says.
“If at the end of all this we only had big businesses, we’d have a lesser society.”
The Go Local First campaign is funded by the Federal Government and delivered by the Council of Small business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) on behalf of small businesses everywhere. COSBOA is Australia’s peak body exclusively representing the interests of small business. The Go Local First campaign encourages consumers to buy products and services from small businesses so our local communities and economies thrive.