Visitor numbers may be down as weather and fire conditions worsen south of Berry but Silos Estate is busy helping those seeking respite in the Shoalhaven.
Rajarshi Ray and his team at the vineyard on the Princes Hwy just north of Nowra are providing families and animals a safe haven during the catastrophic fire period. Since December 20 people evacuating animals and themselves from fire ravaged areas have been made welcome.
Despite being almost at capacity Mr Ray has been offering free accommodation to animals and families. He said the hotel accommodation at Silos is full but caravans, campers and tents are welcome with water, toilets and shared facilities provided free.
Mr Ray said emergency supplies and fire fighting equipment is also provided. "We have been hosting people stuck in the fires. We also have horses, alpacas, goats and sheep. It is not the first time we have done this. It is just something we do to help people out".
Mr Ray said last week Silos provided accommodation to one family with a disabled when their house was directly in the line of fire.
"They stayed with us for a couple of days," he said.
"It is lucky that we can do it. We have had loads of people staying in our hotel accommodation for free. In some cases it was because the highways were closed and they couldn't get through. And in other cases it was for people whose houses were in danger".
Mr Ray said tourism business was down because of the fires but Shoalhaven City Council and its tourism arm Shoalhaven Tourism plan to launch a campaign to lure visitors back after the present fire danger passes.
While no details of when and what that campaign will look like will be planned or unveiled until after the fire emergency is over, holiday markers will be enticed back once the emergency is over.
On Saturday the Emergency Operations Centre and the RFS Incident Controller encouraged intending visitors to reconsider their travel plans to the Shoalhaven.
It follows concerns about deteriorating weather conditions leading up to New Year's Day and the added burden of more people in the area will have on emergency services and responders.
Tourism plays a significant part in the Shoalhaven and South Coast economy, with many livelihoods depending on the busy summer holiday season.
Libby Cupitt, of Cupitt's Estate near Ulladulla, said that 220,000 hectare Currowan fire had stopped many holiday markers from heading down the coast over Christmas and New Year.
"We are down significantly on visitation and sales," she said.
"Our local region and economy will take a huge knock this summer, and we really don't want to see a change in the reputation of the South Coast as a great summer destination.
"Our message to Sydneysiders is looking forward we still hope they visit the South Coast when things are under control.
"The businesses down here prepare for the summer season and want you to have a great summer break on the South Coast.
"We are always grateful to Shoalhaven Tourism for driving tourism through marketing campaigns and fully support any action they take.
"We also are so grateful to the RFS and all the other volunteers assisting in these trying conditions.
"We feel safe in Ulladulla, Milton, and Mollymook and our thoughts are with all the people in our surrounding communities who are at fire risk."
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