‘‘NOT even a tornado could beat us’’ were the choice words of a Jamberoo Public School student when she spoke about why she loved the area at Kiama Tourism’s ‘My Kiama’ launch.
The new strategy was launched on Monday, which Kiama Tourism president Brian Longbottom said was designed to encourage the community to recognise the financial, cultural and social role tourism played in the region.
‘‘We are truly blessed to live in one of the most beautiful areas in Australia - boasting a stunning coastline, rolling hills and a thriving, diverse local business community,’’ he said.
‘‘The ‘My Kiama’ campaign is about reminding people who live here to be proud of their home, sharing their favourite places and activities with visitors – whether it’s family or friends.’’
For campaign ambassador and international surfer Sally Fitzgibbons, coming home meant surfing the breaks at Gerroa.
‘‘The more people we can open this up to and have them come down to the southern parts, it’ll be spectacular,’’ she said.
‘‘I really look forward to the buzz that we get in summer and seeing so many people flooding our coastlines.’’
The sea also held fond thoughts for fellow ambassador and travel writer Bruce Elder, who grew up in a country town.
‘‘I first came here when I was five, walked up the hill and thought it was magical,’’ he said.
‘‘I loved the lighthouse, loved the smell of the salt and every day I’m reminded how extraordinarily beautiful it is here.’’
He also issued a challenge to the community to look at the area with fresh eyes and learn about ‘‘the magical things about the place that most of us don’t know’’.
But it was Jamberoo Public School captains Grace Mahon and Tom Behl-Shanks who shed light on the Kiama community’s determination and resilience.
‘‘There’s a sense of togetherness in this town – not even a tornado could beat us,’’ Grace said.
‘‘One tried in February – it almost wrecked our lovely leisure centre and even blew the roof off my house, but we had friends and local volunteers turn up and we soon got back to normal, and now the council has the leisure centre better than ever.’’
Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said Kiama’s rural sector was important, but tourism had also emerged as an important industry.
‘‘Tourism is the one that’s going to provide bread and butter and employment for our people into the future,’’ he said.
Cr Petschler and Member for Kiama Gareth Ward cut the ribbon to open the refurbished Kiama Visitors Centre, including a larger merchandise shop and the new Milk and Honey Cafe.
Mr Ward said tourism was lifestyle conducted elsewhere.
‘‘We get to live in this beautiful part of the world and enjoy it every day of the week, but for the thousands who come to the region... the people behind these doors are our front line,’’ he said.
‘‘They are the face of our region... So it’s important we support them.’’
To celebrate the ‘My Kiama’ campaign, the community is encouraged to visit Kiama Tourism’s Facebook page and post a comment or photo showcasing what Kiama means to them.
Three posts will be selected at random to receive baskets of Kiama merchandise including tea towels, stubby coolers, caps, jumpers and stickers.