Episode 31: Coronavirus takes its toll on Tamworth businesses
Updated: Mar 20, 2020
Federal government orders have forced the cancellation of a long list of events and overseas travellers to return home, both of which are expected to have a significant impact on the local economy.
While there have not been any confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Tamworth, local industries have been dealt a huge blow.
Chris Watson, the owner of Chris Watson travel, said he has been working non-stop.
"It's been a terrible 10 days or 14 days for the travel industry," he said.
"I have never seen anything like it. I am scared that there will be businesses that won't come out the other side."
Mr Watson said their priority was getting clients home, with the last ones arriving on Thursday.
"A few have decided to stay overseas - that's a very big call, that was their decision," he said.
"Our plan from then on was to, make changes to people who had immediate travel in the next 10 or 20 days.
"We are now up to April where we are rearranging people and looking further into may now."
Mike Rowland, manager at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre, said the events contribute about $18m a year into the local economy.
"It's just over $7 million loss as a result of five events lost," he said.
"All of them have reorganised or attempting to reorganise dates as we speak.
"In every instance, bar one, those organisers were flying in judges and officials from overseas to be a part of these events, so they had a number of challenges coming at them."
Mr Rowland said the $7 million figure, which is a contribution to Tamworth's economy, is based on visitor nights.
He added some businesses are trying to adapt as their entire existence is based on what happens at the AELEC.
In this week's 2TM News Podcast, Annie Lewis and Tim Coates caught up with Chris Watson, owner of Chris Watson Travel, and Mike Rowland, manager at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre.