Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) has been named as a finalist at the Economic Development Australia Excellence Awards in two categories. The Buy Local or Bye Local initiative, run by Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) in Wellington has been recognised on the national stage, along with the Council driven initiative with Ballina Byron Bay and Pelican Airlines to start a new flight route between Dubbo and Ballina Airport.
“Being named as a finalist in these two categories gives us confidence that when restrictions are finally eased, we are in a good position to support businesses and tourism for a safe, sustainable economic recovery, focussed on industry support and attraction,” said Council’s Manager Economic Development, Josie Howard.
The #BuyLocalorByeLocal campaign ran in Wellington, and was specifically designed to support and reinforce the ‘buy local’ message in Wellington. Ms Howard says the campaign also aimed to help businesses severely affected by the ongoing drought before facing unprecedented widespread economic and social impacts presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The success of offsetting the effects of compulsory closures, reduced discretionary spending, changing consumer habits including increased online purchasing and panic buying can be seen in Spendmapp data pertaining to consumer spending in Wellington.
During the quarter the campaign was in market, Wellington experienced 10.75% growth in overall spend, a 5.14% increase in resident spend, and a 27.79% growth in visitor spend. This demonstrates that targeted marketing to the market was successful,” said Ms Howard.
Council has also been recognised in the category for more than 15,000 residents for the work with Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and Fly Pelican to launch a new fight route in the midst of the pandemic, to stimulate regional economic growth and tourism. The idea which was born from the Dubbo City Regional Airport and its capacity to service new regional flights as a silver lining of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Ms Howard says a decline in the Dubbo City Regional Airport patronage, revenue and general visitation to the Dubbo Region was occurring due to COVID-19 restrictions. “The idea was born through innovation from circumstances that bought an industry to its knees. Council took an innovative approach to engage industry and support regional travel and regional economies. While COVID-19 was the catalyst for innovation – sustainability of the service was also key to success,” she said.
Three months after the launch of the service, the average load factor for both directions was sitting at 90%. The trial service had been a spectacular success with more than 1,200 people using the service throughout the initial trial period. At the end of the trial period, all parties agreed to extend the trial for another three months over summer, with the inclusion of an extra weekly service. At the conclusion of the extension, Fly Pelican announced that this would become a full time, permanent new route.
“We’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the Dubbo Region when it’s safe to do so. We’re already working on some more initiatives to support business and tourism when we can reopen safely.”
Awards will be announced on 14 October, at the virtual Economic Development Australia Awards and Conference.