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                                      TO MARKET TO MARKET
Funny the way things work out. In 2012, when Jill Keyte and husband Ray bought their property in Exeter as a Sydney weekender, she thought the idea of opening a local market in the grounds of the lovely Village Hall sounded good. But by the time they moved full-time here in 2016, the Exeter markets were in full swing. Then this year, after selling some land to growers Sam Costello and Elizabeth Crawford at Brillig Farm, the opportunity came by again, and this time Keyte grabbed it.
‘We loved the laidback charm and vibrancy of the markets,’ says Keyte, who is an author, farmer and the sister of newsreader Jennifer. ‘We don’t want to change that, but we want to help the event become more of a destination market
for locals and visitors. We recently did a postcode poll at the markets that showed 25% of visitors were from Exeter, 30% were from the rest of the Highlands and the remainder were visiting from Sydney.’
Keyte is welcoming new stalls and planning themed markets, such as a special garden event in November, and says she will continue to champion local producers and products. Exeter Village Hall, first Saturday of the month, 9am-1.30pm
VISITOR ECONOMY CRUCIAL TO THE HIGHLANDS
A recent plan by the NSW Government about our tourism region, Destination Sydney Surrounds South, says the Highlands is ideally placed to benefit from the ‘visitor economy’. The Destination Management Plan 2018-2022 found that in 2016-2017, 11.3 million visitors injected $1.77 billion into the region of the Southern Highlands, Wollondilly, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven, with 67% of visitors from Sydney. The report found that while this region is growing in the domestic visitor market, it is lagging behind other NSW regions in the number of international stays and visitor expenditure, and is lacking in new tourism experiences and competition.
The report urges local governments to encourage accommodation investment and support the development of niche and special interest tourism offerings in our region, including local indigenous experiences, golf, adventure, food and beverage, aquatic, equine, arts and culture, heritage, outdoor and nature.
The plan aims to double the value of the region’s overnight visitor economy by 2022, to become the number one overnight short break destination.
The Destination Management Plan details a number of major commercial developments in the Southern Highlands, including Bendooley Estate’s Function Centre, Mount Ashby Winery’s planned Function Centre and a planned Indoor Equine Centre at Werai Racecourse.
The report concluded that events and festivals are integral to the visitor economy: ‘The DSSS zone needs to identify, attract and nurture events that will increase overnight expenditure and stimulate visitation in off peak periods.’ Turn to page 114 to read all about new festival Pie Time this month and to page 116 to learn which local operators are ahead of the game in the ‘visitor economy’. To read plan dnsss.com.au/resources E
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