Home and Away Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours owner pleas for government assistance

BRINGING SMILES: Location tours of Home and Away at Palm Beach attract around 5000 participants a year and most of them are Aussies. Picture: Supplied
BRINGING SMILES: Location tours of Home and Away at Palm Beach attract around 5000 participants a year and most of them are Aussies. Picture: Supplied

"I'VE spent 10 years and a million dollars on my business and I'm weeks away from going to work at Coles."

This is the harsh reality for Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours owner Al Wilson who's pleading for government to listen to NSW northern beaches businesses who are continuing to do it tough following the COVID-19 lockdowns.

His company conducts location tours of Home and Away at Palm Beach and each year around 5000 people book a seat.

"A lot of people are under the impression we only have overseas tourists but the reality is about 80 per cent of our business comes from Australian families," Mr Wilson said.

It's been 10 months since his company made a profit due to the domestic and international travel restrictions amid the pandemic, and Mr Wilson said lockdowns are "absolutely not the way forward".

"We are not going to come out of this in the next four months or five months or six months, we're going to still be seeing cases in 2022, that means there will be lockdowns in 2022. That is completely unrealistic from a business point of view," he said.

DEVASTATED: Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours owner Al Wilson runs location tours of Home and Away at Palm Beach and they attract around 5000 participants a year and most of them are Aussies. Picture: Nadine Morton

DEVASTATED: Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours owner Al Wilson runs location tours of Home and Away at Palm Beach and they attract around 5000 participants a year and most of them are Aussies. Picture: Nadine Morton

"We need to manage this virus differently, we need to manage how we're managing it differently, arguably we need to learn to live with it."

Unlike other businesses, the tour company can't just open and shut, and bookings are often made months in advance.

"Even if they open the boarders today we may not see those customers until Easter," Mr Wilson said.

While the business has pivoted to now offer video chats with Home and Away actors, he is still gravely concerned about the business' long term future.

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"We have absolutely zero confidence, it is devastating, not just financially and not just because of the amount of work that's gone into this," he said.

"We bring an untold amount of pleasure to fans, to people. These people get married on our tour, these people propose on our tours ... what we offer literally brings tears to people around the world."

NSW Small Business Commissioner Chris Lamont is currently in the region seeking feedback from other impacted businesses and he said lockdowns are also about consumer sentiment.

"If people are in genuine fear for contracting COVID, regardless of whether there's a lockdown or not, they won't shop," he said.

"Consumers, whether they were domestic or people who had come from other states, weren't confident enough to get out on the streets and shop so it's bigger than just a lockdown, as concerning as a lockdown is."

This story 'I'm weeks away from going to work at Coles': Home and Away tour guide's plea first appeared on Northern Beaches Review.