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Tourism the key to rebuilding region’s economy

After a tough couple of years grappling with the effects of the drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, Armidale Regional Council is on track to help rebuild the local economy, with a number of exciting tourism initiatives in the works.

From launching a new self-guided walking tour app around the city to holding large-scale events set to draw thousands to town, there is plenty happening in the tourism space.

With the region’s stunning scenery and breathtaking landmarks, Council’s General Manager James Roncon said attracting visitors to town is the key to getting the region back on its feet.

“The only way to get people back on the road and exploring our beautiful area is through giving them a reason to visit,” he said.

“Things like the Big Chill Beer and Barbeque Festival and the Armidale Spring Games are great examples of large-scale events that will attract huge numbers to the area, which will undoubtedly have positive flow on effects for local businesses in a variety of sectors.”

The Big Chill Beer and Barbeque Festival will kick off in just over two weeks, and will be a celebration of fine meats and boutique brews amongst Armidale’s iconic Autumn scenery.

With barbeque cook-off competitions, a huge range of vendors and a stellar line-up of entertainment, the festival is sure to draw visitors to the region.

“This festival has something for everyone, and is a fantastic way for people from all over the country to be introduced to the New England and everything it has to offer,” said Mr Roncon.

“People will come and stay in local accommodation, eat at restaurants and cafes and spend money in our shops, which is the key to rebuilding our economy.”

Live music acts will include headliner Rai Thistlethwayte from Thirsty Merc, James Bennett, Charlie Fittler, Ash Hall Trio, Vinnie & the Cuban Missiles and Rough Justice. Tickets are $15-$25 and are available through www.bigchill.com.au and Eventbrite.

In addition to the Big Chill Beer and Barbeque Festival which was made possible by an $80,000 grant from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Fund, Council has organised the inaugural Armidale Spring Games to be held over the October long weekend. The event is expected to draw more than 50 sports teams from all over the country from hockey, football and cricket, and will take place at several venues across the city. This bushfire recovery initiative is funded by a $145,000 grant from the Australian Government through the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery grants program.

“Not only will businesses in Armidale see a huge influx over the four-day event, but smaller surrounding towns and villages will receive a boost in tourism numbers,” said Mr Roncon.

“As part of this event we want to encourage visitors to enjoy the long weekend by exploring the area’s top destinations, while also watching and participating in the sporting events.”

This will be made easy, with the New England High Country’s Regional Map Guide recently launching. Despite the rise in digital maps technology, the paper-based Hema maps are hugely popular for highlighting all of the region’s hidden gems. The New England High Country Map & Guide is a joint initiative between Councils in Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha, the map guide highlights the region’s local eateries, wineries, distilleries and museums and other attractions.

Armidale was also recently added to the ‘Cya on the Road’ mobile app with a virtual self-guided walking tour featuring the city’s historic landmarks. A joint project between Council and the Armidale District Historical Society, the tour provides fascinating insight into some of the city’s key historic sites dating all the way back to the 1860s. The tour is estimated to take around 35 minutes, with the itinerary including the Hanna’s Arcade, Smith House, the Town Hall, the old Armidale Courthouse, and the cathedrals.

To find out more or to download the app, visit the ‘Cya onthe Road’ website or download the app and search for ‘Armidale Self-Guided Heritage Walk’. The app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

If you would like a copy of the New England High Country Regional Map Guide, drop into the Armidale Visitor Information Centre.

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