HOLIDAYS - remember those?
Get your bucket lists ready because the tourism campaign encouraging people to holiday at home is ramping up and Port Macquarie-Hastings plans to be among the must-visit destinations in Australia.
Domestic travel restrictions look set to ease after mid-year and to be a key player in what will be a massively competitive race for the local tourism dollar, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council along with Destination NSW and Tourism Australia are already working together on campaigns to fill hotels, motels, campgrounds and stimulate regional business and the economy.
Off the back of global exposure from the summer bushfires and the worldwide interest in koala rehabilitation, Port Macquarie-Hastings' tourism campaign has had one clear message - paradise will wait.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said it's unlikely that Australians will be able to travel internationally until mid-late 2021 given COVID-19 uncertainties.
"We see this as good newsfor destinations such as Port Macquarie assuming domestic travel restrictions will lift much earlier," Liesa Davies, council's group manager - economic and cultural development said.
The latest report from Tourism Research Australia shows the aspiration to travel remains strong among Australians, with 43 per cent looking to travel, and the more affluent, educated and socially engaged travellers in the 55-plus age bracket ready to travel as soon as restrictions ease.
"Council has responded to the challenges of the bushfires and COVID-19 by focusing on clear and consistent communication with our local tourism industry," Ms Davies said.
"This includes adapting our messaging to potential visitors, and planning for strategic projects to support the recovery of the tourism industry and assist it in thriving in the future. Helping our local businesses to access support from all levels of government has also been a key priority."
After the bushfires, a raft of attention was focused on the Hastings and its koalas with Tourism Australia support generating more than $2 million worth of exposure through news media. More than 25 stories have been generated in countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, South East Asia and Australia.
"In terms of our tourism marketing, which continues now, our goal is to ensure the Port Macquarie-Hastings region as top of mind with potential visitors, and to inspire them to visit in the future by showcasing all the wonderful things we have on offer," Ms Davies said.
"Once travel resumes, there will be a great deal of competition for the domestic visitor market, so we want to make sure we are known as a great place to visit when it is safe for them and our community to do so.
"In addition to our broader inspiration marketing campaign and supporting the local industry as much as possible, we've had some great success domestically and internationally by partnering with the Koala Hospital and Tourism Australia.
"As we know, Port Macquarie received a lot of media attention during the bushfires, so it's really important that we share the stories of recovery - and these are receiving incredible engagement from our audience, particularly as they relate to our koalas."
The wholesale domestic tourism campaign will also aim to capture the New Zealand travel dollar.
The region is also partnering with Australian Traveller Magazine to sponsor the 'Road Tripping' section in the upcoming Tourism Australia-sponsored '100 Ways to Holiday Here this Year' edition.