Council supports local ecotourism operators after fires
Blue Mountains City Council is rolling out an assistance scheme to help local ecotourism operators, whose livelihood has been affected by recent bush fires.
The $100,000 scheme will employ one or more nature-based tourism operators to undertake maintenance and construction of walking tracks in the Blue Mountains using their own guides, under Council staff or contractor supervision.
The scheme will run for at least two months and has been activated quickly by using Council’s own Ecotourism Licensing Scheme that provides approval for commercial tourism operators to undertake commercial activities on Council managed lands.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said Council understood the urgency in providing employment to this skilled and qualified casual labour force, before they were forced to move elsewhere for work.
“The recent bush fires have not only resulted in a down turn in visitors to the Blue Mountains, but also affected the areas where these ecotourism operators provide their services,” Mayor Greenhill said.
“Some of these areas will not be available for commercial use until safety and environmental issues are addressed, which will take time.
“There are concerns that a lack of work will result in our nature-based tourism guides moving away from the City, or changing jobs. This would constrain the industry’s capacity to recover, and so Council has had to find a solution that could be activated quickly.
“The beauty of this scheme is that National Parks and Wildlife Service could also adopt the scheme to engage ecotourism operators in similar activities, which would provide greater protection of the industry while the tourism market recovers.”
The assistance scheme will be funded partly by the Federal Government’s assistance grant, as well as by Council’s ecotourism licence fee income.
Council announced the assistance scheme at a meeting with the local ecotourism industry.