• Tony Bosworth

Bright future as Hawkesbury tourism businesses bounce back

We all know this year has been a pretty awful one for many people, with one of the hardest hit sectors being tourism after bush fires swept across the area, swiftly followed by floods and then of course the pandemic.

But Hawkesbury tourism operators are bouncing back, thanks in part to a hugely successful council-led program which has just come to an end.

The aptly named Business Bounce Back program began in April and is one part of Hawkesbury Council’s broader business recovery program offered to businesses. The free program offered one on one mentoring and provided the business tools for resilience in the future.

Sparrowly Group designed the program and worked with the council and local businesses on one-on-one mentoring.

Some 22 tourism businesses across the Hawkesbury signed up and Chair of the council’s Tourism Committee, Emma-Jane Garrow, told the Post it had been hugely successful and she had been touched by the stories of resilience and rebirth thanks to the program.

“It has been an honour that Council was able to deliver the Bounce Back program into the Hawkesbury Tourism community. All to the credit of our former General Manager, Peter Conroy and his staff Linda Perrine and Amanda Kearney.

“Visiting and listening to the outcomes from several of our participants has highlighted just how valuable this mentoring has been to so many of our local businesses.

“The Bounce Back program has brought invaluable resources, support, encouragement and connectivity to a cross section of local tourism businesses, relationships and lessons that will continue to grow and benefit each other and our Hawkesbury.”

And the response from those who took part has also been very positive.

Lewis Adey, owner of Yanada Retreat at St Albans, said, “An excellent and well thought out program delivered with confidence and clarity. It made things that were previously out of my depth clear and easy to understand, giving me the confidence to give it a go and keep learning.”

Ben Britton, Director, Wild Cat Conservation Centre, said the group mentoring team had been great to work with.

“They took the time to really understand the unique complexities of our business and how they could help, tailoring the program to suit our very specific needs. Their advice and mentorship has allowed us to refocus our centre and be back open with new opportunities and information we can use not only during COVID, but on the other side and beyond.”

Penny Ramsay, owner of Off Road Rush Sydney said the program had helped her reopen her business, “especially after experiencing the double whammy of loss from bush fire, followed by closure from COVID19.

“The assistance I have received, especially in the area of marketing and business operations, has truly been invaluable.

“To have an independent support team look at my business from a fresh perspective, has really helped identify areas that we can improve upon, whilst also assisting to locate and utilise the resources that are available to me to work on those improvements. It has been a fantastic initiative. Thank you!

The owners of Karu Distillery, Ally and Nick Ayres, said, “We were really excited to be mentored by Sparrowly Group. The perspective of our business has changed and we have new wonderful things to focus on that aren't as far away as we thought. Not only did we gain skills to plan our businesses future with success and confidence, we also had fun along the way.

Highfields Country Cottages owner, Sandra Eid, said the program had given her a clearer understanding of the elements of successful marketing and strategic planning.

“I have now put continued focus on the fundamentals of product, price and packaging as well as a virtual video tour of Highfields and will evaluate all areas for growth and credibility for my sustainable tranquil country retreat business.”

Dr Ian Knowd, President of Harvest Trails and Markets was also pleased with the program.

“It’s been a very good re-grounding of what we think we do and where we’re at in terms of a transition to a renewed board and strategy for the future. The many processes we built together now means we can more confidently say “we are on the same page and engaged as an organisation” to take it forward successfully.

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