Letters to the Editor: December 30

PATIENCE: Hospitality and retail venues are in high demand and are dealing with staff shortages that are putting more pressure on them, says Mel Turner.
PATIENCE: Hospitality and retail venues are in high demand and are dealing with staff shortages that are putting more pressure on them, says Mel Turner.

Be kind to our businesses

Businesses around Port Stephens continue to provide mixed reactions over the busy period. Some businesses are enjoying the holiday injection, while others are finding things off to a slow start.

Staffing has been an ongoing challenge for some businesses while the latest COVID outbreak has also had an impact on trade.

Accommodation houses are experiencing high to fully booked occupancy rates with some dealing with the latest outbreak are receiving cancellations. However, these are quickly re-booked.

Some businesses chose to close in the lead up to the Christmas break in order to keep their staff safe for the return to trade. Other businesses experienced staff having to isolate or testing positive to COVID and as a result were met with staff shortages which impacted trade ability and trading hours.

It is important that visitors understand that many of the industry sectors in Port Stephens operating over the Christmas break are hospitality and retail venues. They are in high demand and are dealing with a staff shortage that has never been experienced in this area at such a critical level.

We ask that visitors be kind and patient and respectful to these industry workers that are working long and hard to service visitors to the area and not to perceive the service as poor, but as a champion effort that these staff members are turning up each day to ensure you enjoy your experience. You are actually being served by an industry worker that is quickly becoming an endangered species.

It's great to see the New Year's Eve fireworks are set to go ahead, which will again bring people into the Nelson Bay precinct to enjoy restaurants, retail and water activities.

Elsewhere, our village precincts will have activations in place including the launch of the Birubi Markets in early January.

We all look forward to welcoming in a new, safe and healthy 2022.

Mel Turner, president of Business Port Stephens

Airport could become a feature

The extension of the Nelson Bay Road dual carriageway will provide a unique opportunity to substantially enhance both the arrival experience as well as accessibility to Port Stephens, including a very real opportunity for the Newcastle Airport precinct to be effectively integrated with the road upgrade providing a substantially improved gateway.

The airport precinct is a key visitor 'sense of arrival' experience which currently is very 'underwhelming' and therefore I have a genuine concern. Once vacating the terminal you are basically greeted by signs and a poorly presented entry/egress road.

Therefore, the upgrade and extension of Nelson Bay Road is a very real opportunity to address this issue which could include effective and well-presented linkages as well as welcoming signage and landscaping such as an avenue of trees.

In fact, we can learn from some good examples in Australia such as Cairns airport in Queensland. Many airport precincts around the world make a feature of the landscaping around them and along the exit/entry route to the city/town which they service. Our visitors are an integral part of our economy including the future growth of tourism for our area - both domestic and international.

Also it is planned to develop the airport Special Activation Precinct which will substantially increase employment and accordingly will grow traffic movements in the airport precinct and therefore the Nelson Bay Road upgrade is a real opportunity for effective integration .

Newcastle-Port Stephens Airport has now achieved international status so we should therefore be addressing the arrival and departure experience and the proposed new roadway will also be an opportunity .

There is the opportunity for the state government to work with the local tourism authority and Port Stephens Council to make the new roadway a very welcoming gateway experience - particularly landscaping and welcoming signage.

Peter Clough, Fingal Bay

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