Source : PortMac.News | Retail :
Source : PortMac.News | Retail | News Story:
Last year, regional NSW communities welcomed 27.2 million domestic overnight visitors, with April through June alone seeing 19.5 million visitors pass through the regions.
By the end of the year, overnight visitors had spent $14.3 billion in regional NSW communities during their stays.
In Port Macquarie, where fires raged for 210 days starting last July, John Cassegrain and his family have been making wine for 35 years.
The past year has seen drought, bushfires and the coronavirus restrictions combine to reduce Cassegrain Wines’ revenue by 90 per cent.
“We’re used to drought, we’re used to floods, we’re used to hail, but to have drought and bushfires in one year - two natural disasters - and then COVID-19 putting the whole world economy in turmoil? This is a first,” John says.
Despite the drought, John says Cassegrain Wines was on track to enjoy its best November ever, but everything changed when the fire reached the property.
“It was pretty frightening. We spent a lot of time helping our neighbours, we had fire trucks and water trucks just to water down the winery building,” he says.
“We had to completely close the winery for a few days, and then as the rest of the state suffered during December and January it just had an enormous impact on visitation to the region and our cellar door sales.”
Then, when the coronavirus hit in March, John was no longer able to offer tastings at the winery, pushing cellar door sales even further down.
His family had already started feeling the impact of COVID-19 two months earlier when it saw many of their scheduled exports to Asia cancelled.
“Our number one export market is Japan and our number one customer there is the Bullet Train. They’ve been buying our wine for more than 20 years, buying one container every three or four weeks until now” John says.
“We’re spending a lot of time at the moment assessing what our future will look like, and we don’t think we will see the export market recover for at least a couple of years.”
The past 12 months has seen their property scorched, their sales slashed and some of their grape crops run dry.
But John says Monday’s reopening of regional tourism is something all of Port Macquarie has to celebrate.
“It’s going to be a fantastic time for many people to rediscover regional Australia when they might not have been to our neck of the woods for quite some years,” he says.
“And I think that they might be pretty impressed when they see what we have here.”
Below | Alex, John and Philippe Cassegrain of Port Macquarie's Cassegrain Wines.