January 8, 2020

Be A Hero: 3 Brilliant Online Stores To Help Regional Tourism From Afar

Words by Matt Leedham
Give BackImpact
Forrester Station, Alpha, Australia. Pic: Tobias Keller

Australian regional tourism businesses in drought-stricken areas have been suffering for a long time. The current bushfire catastrophe has forced even more visitors to stay away. Thankfully, help is at hand.

The devastating bushfires that have ravaged regional Australia have left untold destruction in their wake, including local businesses who, especially in the summer months, rely on regular visitors to keep the local economy alive.

Since the start of the 2019 fire season in September, more than 6.3 million hectares have burned. At least 20 people have been killed, more than 1,700 homes have been destroyed, and an estimated billion animals have died.

For many locally-owned and run businesses, the six-week summer holiday peak (Mid Dec – end Jan) is the busiest of the year with 50-60 per cent of income for the year coming from these peak times. Sadly, many locals are now wondering how they’ll be able to keep their businesses afloat without that income.

So the challenge is that while rebuilding the tourism of bushfire affected areas is a priority for many well-meaning Aussies, physically visiting these locations is neither practical nor safe at this current moment.

Thankfully, these three ingenious online businesses have brought the Australia bush to the world so that everyone from anywhere can help.

1. It’s My Shout!

Lakes Entrance local, Tenille Bull, found a way to contribute to the long-term futures of many tourist-based businesses in the bushfire ravaged East Gippsland area with the creation of a virtual shopping site called: ‘It’s My Shout’.

The platform allows consumers from anywhere to keep these tourist towns active by ‘virtual spending’. You can choose to buy virtual coffees or beers, clothing or haircuts, dinner or accommodation – with all proceeds being donated to the pre-approved respective businesses.

Virtual visitors can also opt to purchase a coffee for a hero – whether it be CFA, RFS, SES, Police Ambulance, DELWP, Relief Volunteer or someone who has been affected by the tragic bushfires in East Gippsland.

How good is that?

Plus, with every coffee purchased, It’s My Shout will add five pre-paid coffees onto the ‘Coffee for a Hero’ tally, so when the next ‘Hero’ walks in craving coffee, they can say ‘it’s my shout!’

Get involved!

2. Spend With Them

This creative Instagram account was created to help showcase a bunch of local businesses and artisans which have been bushfire affected in Australian communities. Shop swimwear labels to local gins, honey, jewellery and more.

The account was started by Australians Turia Pitt and Grace McBride in response to the ongoing crisis and already has amassed more than 138,000 followers.

Speaking about the local communities, co-founder Turia Pitt says: “Once these fires are finally ‘over’, it won’t be over for many of the local businesses in fire-ravaged towns. A lot of these places (like my home in Mollymook, and Mallacoota, Kangaroo Island, Eden, etc), rely on the tourist dollar for their very survival.”

Some of those businesses featured include the Stony Creek Farm Distillery in Bega Creek, surf and clothing store Akwa Surf in Milton, and the Adelaide Hills winery Vinteloper, which saw its vineyard “obliterated” in the pre-Christmas fires.

“This is a way to put money directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most and need it NOW. Long after the threat is over, and the choppers stop flying overhead. Long after summer ends and the wail of sirens ceases in the streets. Help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them.”

Turia Pitt, co-founder, Spend With Them

Get involved! #spendwiththem

3. Buy From The Bush

Buy From The Bush was created in October 2019 and began as an Instagram account showcasing beautiful things such as art, homewares, food and stylish gifts available to buy from rural communities facing drought.

The account called on city friends to look to the bush for their Christmas shopping and by so doing, invest in keeping rural communities alive through the drought. Seven weeks later, remarkably, it had over 130,000 followers and had increased rural postage figures by 40%.

Today, is a full online store that aims to connect bush businesses with city customers. It celebrates the creativity, productivity, innovation and resilience of rural communities and is proof that urban and rural communities are connected, never more profoundly than in times of crisis.

The investment from city customers has been transformative. Stock is selling out. Many creators and makers are developing new relationships with wholesalers and stockists. Rural Australia Post franchises are selling out of parcels due to the increased postage demand. Small businesses are paying casuals to support the increase in sales.

Businesses have also reported growing their social media following by more than 4000 in three weeks. For many, Buy From The Bush has meant that they will keep their doors open for at least a little longer. For others, it means that they can pay their family’s household bills this month.

One business owner said: ‘’When I look back at this drought, one thing I’ll remember most is the warm and fuzzy feelings this campaign has brought”.

At a time like this, ‘warm and fuzzies’ are more precious than gold.

And also coming soon… Stays in the bush!

Get involved!

Grace Brennan, Buy from the bush founder

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.