The current state of our local economy is worrying with nearly all businesses reporting lower trading figures than normal, and a number of them businesses indicating that they are in serious financial trouble and may need to close down soon.

With winter still in full swing and the national and international economies under pressure, it is understandable that many business owners are concerned.

The good news, however, is that an increase in the number of visitors to our shores is on the cards and there are several individuals and civil society groups hard at work to attract as many tourists as possible. The money generated from tourism is the single largest driver of the rest of our economy and therefore everything must be done to bolster this sector.

With various factors, from price to technology, having an impact on tourism the time has come to set aside our differences and work together to ensure the survival of our town and its industries. This includes the small shops and local businesses dotted throughout our CBDs and in rural areas. These businesses give our region its unique character and afford visitors a glimpse into the soul of our region.

Collectively these businesses employ thousands of people and contribute greatly to our economy.

The rules of engagement with customers are changing by the day and all of us must keep abreast of what is happening. We need to look at how we conduct business in order to attract customers. Let us talk to each other and learn from our mistakes, and bring our region back as an economic powerhouse. We owe it to ourselves and to our children.

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