A joint initiative between the NSW government and Airbnb is set to provide a major boost to regional pubs throughout the state.
Launched on Sunday, the Airbnb Country Pub Project is inviting people to nominate their favourite country pub to receive a grant of up to $50,000 to help revive and promote the venue.
The project was officially launched at Sofala's Royal Hotel by Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres and Airbnb spokesperson Brent Thomas.
Mr Ayers said the project would provide welcome assistance to smaller regional communities looking to attract tourism to the area.
"Tourism is critical to the economy of local communities, ensuring the employment of 90,000 people across regional NSW," he said.
"Country pubs such as Sofala's Royal Hotel are the heartbeat of their respective communities, and this new project will help expose these treasured venues to more tourists."
Airbnb came up with the idea for the project on the basis of research into the trends of Australian tourists.
The research, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, found that while 70 per cent of Australians would like to take a trip to regional Australia, only 14 per cent had spent a night in a regional pub in the past 12 months.
Mr Thomas said the project is a world first from Airbnb, and will aim to introduce Australian tourists to a host of historic communities.
"Any pub in Australia outside of metropolitan areas can be nominated for this project, and the chosen venues will feature as part of a multi-million dollar marketing campaign to bolster regional tourism," he said.
"Australians consider the pub to be the most important social hub in a local community, and we want to give tourists another reason to visit iconic country towns."
Sandy and Marty Tomkinson have owned the Royal Hotel since the early 1990s, and said the venue serves as the centre of the Sofala community.
"This pub is more than just a waterhole; it's a meeting place for the entire community," Mr Tomkinson said.
However, the venue has been hit hard in recent years due to the effects of the drought on the nearby Turon River, which Ms Tomkinson said they relied on for tourism.
"A dry river is less desirable for activities such as camping and gold-panning."
With the announcement of Airbnb's new project, the Tomkinsons hope people will consider the Royal Hotel in the nomination process.
"Sofala is the oldest surviving gold mining town in Australia and we hope this project will show tourists that there's more to Australia than the cities," Ms Tomkinson said. Nominations close on July 12 and the five chosen pubs will be revealed on August 5.
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