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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has urged locals to continue to support businesses experiencing a damaging downturn in revenue due to bushfires.

Mr Chester said the plight of Gippsland, including its businesses, needed to remain at the forefront of people’s minds, particularly now the school holidays were over.

“We must not forget there are many local enterprises that have been directly impacted by the fires and others, even though they are well away from the fire front, that have also been affected,” Mr Chester said.

“Trade in many towns across our region has taken a big hit over summer. While access to some areas has been impossible, there are people who mistakenly believed all of Gippsland was affected by the fires and chose to holiday elsewhere in Victoria.

“The January holidays provide a valuable boost in trade to many local businesses, including accommodation providers, bakeries, cafes and restaurants, tour operators and retail stores.

“Without the tourist traffic they would normally receive over the summer holidays, they’ve had a bad start to the year.

“Now school is back and everyone is returning to their normal routine, we must not let our communities be forgotten and do what we can to help them to rebuild and get back on their feet.

“As a community, we need to make sure that Gippsland remains at the forefront of people’s minds in Melbourne and elsewhere in Victoria. We need to invite our friends and family here for a weekend to enjoy all that this area has to offer.

“The Easter school holidays will be more important than ever before for many businesses, but we need to do what we can to support locals through until then.

“The small business sector is one of the largest employers in regional areas like Gippsland and it relies on owners having confidence to continue investing in our region.

“It is important that Gippslanders put locals first by supporting local business at every opportunity. Local shops employ local people. The best thing you can do right now is to support local people by shopping locally and using local tradies and service providers whenever possible.

“I urge everyone to think twice before spending money out of town and look at ways to support local business whenever they can and help Gippsland pull through this bushfire crisis.”

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