Business Confidence Booms as Bash set to kick off

By Dylan J. Stone

The second Mundi Mundi Bash, which will get underway tomorrow – Thursday – appears to have already increased local and regional business owners’ confidence, with as many as 10,000 people expected to head to Mundiville for the major festival.

Many hundreds of people are already holidaying in Broken Hill and the Far West.

With a successful St Pats Races and April Mundi Bash already ticked off on the 2022 calendar, and with only several weeks until the first Broken Heel Festival in three years gets underway, a pulse-check of business confidence reveals good news.

Janette Bussell, from Trappers Dugout in White Cliffs, says many of her guests are passing through White Cliffs on their way to the Mundi Bash, and not only have Ms Bussell’s guests, “stayed at the Dugout, they have also been supporting the gift shop, the pub, and the corner store,” she says.

Ms Bussell adds, “the financial value and input from tourists at the moment cannot be underestimated for communities throughout the Far West.”

David Trinder, from the Astra Complex, similarly says,

“I’m optimistic about the future of Broken Hill and the hospitality industry,”

Thanks to that optimism, Mr Trinder says he is, “putting things into place in anticipation for Spring and Summer”, based on his confidence.

Just last week, Mr Trinder was installing new lights over the bar, new lounges in the dining area, and new ovens in the dessert bar, in preparation for a very busy period ahead.

Sergio Bressanelli, from Broken Hill Hobbies and Electronics, also says he is confident about the future.

“At the start of COVID, we realised that businesses would be affected, but because people were indoors due to the lockdown, our sales grew because everyone needed access to technology.”

Albert Veenstra, from Bert’s Home Maintenance, says his business has been impacted by several issues, such as continued poor phone and internet coverage, and disruptions with some employment service providers.

“But overall, I have plenty of confidence in my business both presently and for the future, and I continue to see very strong support from my customers and the community which is pleasing to see,” he says.

Mr Trinder nominated COVID restrictions and staff shortages as the most significant business issues to plague the Astra in recent times. But in spite of those issues, he says, “I have been investing in the business all through this time, because I know the best times are yet to come.”

Muhammed Mehdi, from the Kebab House, also recognised the last six months, “were very tough… as I was in the process of establishing my small business.”

Nevertheless, Mr Mehdi reckons, “my next six months will be smoother” because he believes his business will continue to benefit from upcoming local events such as the Bash and the Heel Festival.

The full reopening of the Victory Caravan Park in Wilcannia, following the Caravan Park’s closure due to flooding, will also provide additional capacity to accommodate the current tourism boom.

Gabrielle Johnston, from the Central Darling Shire Council, said the full reopening of the Caravan Park, “comes as the shire prepares to welcome an increased number of tourists over the next few weeks with people visiting the state’s far west for the Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash. Already in recent days Council has noticed more visitors within the shire.”

Staffing still a problem

A staff shortage across our local businesses is still an issue though.

Mr Trinder is powering ahead with his business ventures despite continuing staff shortages.

He says some of his businesses within the Astra Complex are, “needing to close occasionally because there are no staff to service the customers, but we’re not closing because we want to”.

Mr Trinder is strategically managing this issue by ensuring that, “when one area of the complex is closed, another area is always open to ensure the Astra can still service the community”.

Mr Veenstra is also powering ahead despite the continuing challenges impacting his business, because, he says, “we don’t have an office which a staff member runs from nine-to-five, my office is my mobile phone”.

So, business confidence has certainly improved thanks to the impetus of the Mundi Mundi Bash, which Ms Bussell says has, “broken down the city-country divide”.

“The tourists just love the outback, and it’s great that our communities can accommodate our friends in the city,” she says.

Importantly, confidence is also enjoyed by business owners who are not directly involved in the hospitality and tourism industries such as Bert’s Home Maintenance, because, as Mr Veenstra says,

“when the community overall is doing well, the entire community becomes more confident to spend their money and to support others.”

As for the Bash, Ms Bussell says, “the organisers of the Bash have been very proactive in sharing the money around by advertising a whole range of local businesses, and they need to be congratulated on behalf of the entire region.”

Mr Trinder summarised the general view of local businesses very well, saying, “businesses certainly are confident, because when you find your back is up against the wall, you can only look one way, forward.”

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