Orange's hard-hit tourism sector has been given a $120,000 boost ahead of coronavirus restrictions lifting from next week in a bid to give a rapid-recovery to the industry, which has lost over 5000 jobs in two months.
Newcrest Mining and Orange360 have partnered in a tourism initiative to give locals $1500 to spend in the regional economy across accommodation, restaurants and retail across Orange, with 80 of the prize packs to be handed out from June as prizes on radio.
The prize packs include two nights accommodation, $400 worth of vouchers for food and drink across the region and $500 to be used at retail outlets in the city.
Figures released by the Western NSW Business Chamber released at the end of April showed more than 5500 jobs had been lost across the Central West due to coronavirus, with the majority of those losses in tourism, hospitality and retail.
Orange360 chair Peter Robson said the package - which came out of Newcrest's $20 million community support fund - was a huge win for the region.
"The Orange region visitor economy is worth over $300 million annually and employs over 6,000 local residents," Mr Robson said.
"Lockdowns were introduced just as we were hitting the peak of our tourism season and it's been devastating for many of our operators.
"There's about 6000 jobs in the Orange district reliant on the tourism sector and we know between 5000 and 6000 of those jobs are gone already."
Mr Robson said the region had done "very well" in handling the virus and needed to continue the "balancing act" of ensuring the virus didn't return to the region at the same time tourism dollars do begin flowing back.
"The industry Orange360 represents, those people have taken a triple whammy - they've had the drought, probably the most difficult drought this region has had - the bushfires, most wineries in Orange wiped off their whole stock for this year and now they've had COVID-19," Mr Robson said.
He Orange360 had jumped to secure funding quickly.
"The primary objective is to quickly inject cash flow through our visitor economy again and we'd like to thank Newcrest for supporting the small businesses, local people and families who make up our tourism industry," he said.
Newcrest Cadia's Acting General Manager Aaron Brannigan said it was crucial to get people visiting.
"Cadia is a unique operation to Newcrest in that our workforce live and work in the community, so we have seen first-hand the devastation that COVID-19 has caused the tourism industry," he said.
"This program is designed to provide a vital kick start to the local tourism and hospitality sectors so we can quickly recover, to provide the opportunity for the region to thrive."
Byng Street Boutique Hotel owner and manager Thomas Nock said it had been a "really tough" period for those in the tourism sector and the announcement was a big boost.
"April was terrible, May was tough but wasn't as tough as we predicted. The long weekend is the obvious answer, we were sold out in 36 hours," he said.
"It's fantastic for the community, Newcrest is showing fantastic support for the business, we want it to thrive and that's why we've done what we've done here."
The Newcrest Orange360 Staycation Giveaway will launch in early June across Southern Cross Austereo networks with 80 x Staycation $1,500 prize packages to be won.
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