The launch of the Lakes Entrance/Port Melbourne sister relationship was held last Thursday in the Port Melbourne Town Hall.
The sister relationship was formed following the devastating bushfires, Port Melbourne Business Association (PMBA) rallying around the town with events, including a weekend away, being held to assist the East Gippsland town’s economic recovery.
Led by the PMBA, businesses, residents and service groups are banding together to help Lakes Entrance firms hit hard by the loss of vital tourism dollars in the aftermath of the bushfires.
This “sister city” model is believed to be the first undertaken by a local community with a bushfire-affected area.
“Lakes Entrance might be more than 300km away from Port Melbourne, but there is plenty we can do to help its locals get back on their feet. Visits, buying produce and supporting fundraisers are just some of the ways we can all show our support for this premier tourism destination which is doing it tough,” PMBA chairman, Paul Littman, said.
Some of the sister relationship initiatives include:
- A wellness day in Port Melbourne on Sunday, March 15, featuring yoga on the beach and free access to participating gyms, studios and sporting clubs;
- A Labour Day weekend away (March 6-9) in Lakes Entrance for Port Melbourne residents;
- Promotions to purchase produce and products;
- Primary school relationships;
- Fundraising for a new fire truck (to be matched by the Victorian Government);
- Lists of Port Melbourne businesses supporting their Lakes Entrance counterparts and outlining simple ways of assisting the Lakes Entrance community and businesses.
“It was amazing to hear from the Mayor of Port Melbourne, Bernadene Voss, describing the effort being put in by businesses and residents to support Lakes Entrance after the disastrous bushfires,” Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association (LEADA) president, Bruce Hurley, said.
“She reported businesses are raising funds for Lakes Entrance events, several Port Melbourne organisations are planning visits to Lakes Entrance and there is a marketing campaign in the city led by the council and the business and tourism association to get people to visit and holiday in Lakes Entrance. “One example is that the council is planning to put up large flags along their main street promoting Lakes Entrance.” Mr Hurley said the main message at the launch was that people in the inner city area of Port Melbourne were shocked at the extent of the damage caused by the fires, including the losses to the tourist industry.
“They are wanting to help in practical ways,” he said.
“To achieve this they chose to develop a sister relationship with Lakes Entrance because it was by the sea and relied heavily on tourism like Port Melbourne.”
IMAGE: Executive officer of Business and Tourism East Gippsland, Janet Burton, Port Melbourne mayor, Cr Bernadene Voss, president of Port Melbourne Business Association, Paul Littman, president of Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association, Bruce Hurley, and secretary of Lakes Entrance Business and Tourism Association, Peter Jones, at the launch of the sister relationship between Port Melbourne and Lakes Entrance. (PS)