Right now in Australia, the mornings are cold and the evenings freezing. And for many city-dwellers, the turn of the seasons means one thing: glorious long weekends spent in misty paddocks, wineries, sweet shops and by a roaring fire.
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But in the age of coronavirus, these holidays come with a previously under-appreciated luxury: space.
It’s something tiny house holiday company In2thewild is capitalising on. Dotted across country properties, the tiny house holidays generally sleep two or three people and offer space to slow down and reconnect with nature.
As In2thewild Tiny Holidays CEO Nic Chin told Yahoo Finance, coronavirus has given Australians an opportunity to see what life is like when it’s taken slower, and when it’s not jam-packed with social events. The result? It looks good.
“You can realign your priorities to do something a little more slow-paced, that helps you relax a bit more, rather than being ‘on’ all the time,” Chin said.
“So I think the tiny houses and the locations that we’re in really appeal to people who have discovered that actually the hustle and bustle of life can be balanced with the rest and rejuvenation of being outdoors and taking in the fresh air and looking up at the stars, instead of looking at your phone.”
In2thewild has 18 tiny houses across NSW, Queensland and Victoria and focuses on sustainable, slow living.
And it has a huge focus on supporting local communities. It partners with local farmers and landowners to lease some land to use for the tiny houses. Landowners can also choose to take care of the houses or offer their products, providing an additional source of income.
“We rely heavily on the local communities to help us as a business as we operate and function, and that comes all the way from partnering with the landowners who are obviously from the local community, all the way through to the maintenance and the upkeep of the house,” Chin said.
“And then everything along the way, so we want to recommend people to not buy things from wherever they’re coming from and pick up things along the way, to fill up their petrol, do some activities along the way and when they to their destination, they can enjoy the benefits of that and what the location has to offer.”
Going bush for good
After a horrific finish to 2019 thanks to the unprecedented bushfires, and a rough start to 2020 due to a tourism industry hamstrung by coronavirus, Australia’s regional communities and tourism hotspots have struggled.
But they’ve been the subject of several campaigns to push city dollars into regional pockets, including the Buy from the Bush campaign, the Empty Esky campaign and a government-funded $20 million domestic tourism campaign.
Major bank NAB even gave its 30,000 employees an extra day of annual leave, provided they used it to visit towns impacted by the bushfires.
And it’s needed: only 2,250 international travellers arrived in Australia in April due to the travel ban, while China’s travel warning in early June is also expected to dent at least some travel.
In2thewild backs the Empty Esky campaign, which calls for Australians to head to regional areas with an empty esky and purchase gifts, petrol, food and accommodation while they’re out there - all in a bid to support the struggling areas.
While In2thewild had to hibernate its tiny houses, Chin is hopeful that this push to go bush will help lift its business, and local economies, together.
“We’re able to operate now with travel restrictions being eased, somewhat, and so we’re back in business,” Chin said.
“In many ways, what we offer with our tiny houses really helps people to come out of that isolation and stay-at-home mandate that was required by the government, because our houses are secluded and in remote locations. They’re also self check-in and you’ve got an abundance of space for you and your partner or your family.
“So in many ways, that’s a great first step for people to be able to give back, go out to the local communities and support them as well.”