Publicans Amy and Steve Robson, who own the Royal Standard Hotel in the Victorian town of Toora, are thrilled with their grant. Picture: Supplied
Publicans Amy and Steve Robson, who own the Royal Standard Hotel in the Victorian town of Toora, are thrilled with their grant. Picture: Supplied

How Airbnb is putting country pubs back on the map

IT'S been called the greatest gift to country pubs since tap beer.

Airbnb has revealed the six winners of The Country Pub Project, who will receive a $50,000 grant to help put their businesses and regional towns back on the map.

The campaign kicked off in June to give country pub owners a cash boost to help revitalise their establishments and re-energise their communities.

The winning pubs are the ​Royal Hotel​ in Sofala, NSW; the Imperial Hotel in Ravenswood, Queensland; The Royal Standard Hotel in Toora, Victoria; The Grand Hotel in Millicent, South Australia; Bischoff Hotel in Waratah, Tasmania and The Woolshed Hotel in Nungarin, Western Australia.

Publicans Amy and Steve Robson, who own the Royal Standard Hotel in the Victorian town of Toora, are thrilled with their grant. Picture: Supplied
Publicans Amy and Steve Robson, who own the Royal Standard Hotel in the Victorian town of Toora, are thrilled with their grant. Picture: Supplied

As part of the initiative, publicans and community members were encouraged to nominate their favourite pub by describing what makes their local so special.

The community response was overwhelming, with more than 9000 nominations received - 7000 of which came from the public who nominated their favourite local.

Airbnb spokesman Brent Thomas said the platform was "overwhelmed" by the response to the project.

"We've been overwhelmed by the huge volume of applications received, which is a clear sign of how important these establishments are to regional towns.

"Country pubs are often the beating heart within local communities - they bring people together and help create a sense of belonging, something which is core to Airbnb's mission."

Andrew Palmer’s pub, The Grand Hotel in Millicent, South Australia, is rumoured to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country. Picture: Supplied
Andrew Palmer’s pub, The Grand Hotel in Millicent, South Australia, is rumoured to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country. Picture: Supplied

The winning pub owners will use the $50,000 grant to redecorate bedrooms, do up common areas and connect with global and domestic travellers, he said.

The businesses will be partnered up with Airbnb hosts who will teach them simple tricks of the trade to help them get their rooms ready for guests and help them gain maximum exposure among international and domestic guests.

"The pubs we've selected are among the most loved in Australia, but they need a bit of TLC to help them attract more visitors.

"We're so excited to start working with this wonderful group of publicans and hope that through this process, they'll be able to attract new waves of pub goers who will spend their precious tourist dollars not only in the pubs but in and around the communities they operate in," Mr Thomas said.

Marty and Sandy Tomkinson, owners of the Royal Hotel in Sofala, hope the grant will encourage more visitors to their town. Picture: Supplied
Marty and Sandy Tomkinson, owners of the Royal Hotel in Sofala, hope the grant will encourage more visitors to their town. Picture: Supplied

Victorian publicans Amy and Steve Robson, who own the Royal Standard Hotel in Toora, South Gippsland, say their local community has given them much love and motivation over years but there has never been enough money to fix up their pub.

They will use the grant money to revamp the pub's bedrooms and bathrooms and add a laundry.

"This grant and initiative is so wonderful, it's the greatest gift for country pubs since tap beer," Mrs Robson said.

"There's so much maintenance we wouldn't be able to afford otherwise, so when the opportunity to win a grant was made public, the community got behind and nominated the pub," Mrs Robson said.

Publicans Marty and Sandy Tomkinson took over the Royal Hotel in the picturesque town of Sofala, north of Bathurst, in 1968.

"The pub is the centre of Sofala and is where this great community comes together," Mr Tomkinson said.

"We've been applying for grants for the past couple of years to give it a refresh but haven't been successful, so when we saw this opportunity from Airbnb, we had to throw our hat in the ring. We're so excited to be one of the lucky recipients and we hope it will improve the look of the whole village and encourage more visitors to our town."

The eclectic group of recipients also includes first-time publican Andrew Palmer, who runs the Grand Hotel in Millicent, South Australia - rumoured to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country.

Veteran Queensland publicans Diane and John Schluter have been running the Imperial Hotel in Ravenswood, a small mining town east of Charters Towers for over 20 years and are so close to the community, that Diane is hailed the "queen of Ravenswood".

"We are so excited, we think it's wonderful, not just for us but for everyone in Ravenswood," Mrs Schluter said.


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