The Country Pub Project: Airbnb; Royal Hotel Sofala

6 country pubs get $50,000 boost from Airbnb

August 12, 2019
By Alana House

Airbnb has revealed the six winners of The Country Pub Project, an initiative designed to encourage more Australians to explore regional communities, while breathing new life into local pubs.

Aussies were asked to nominate their favourite watering hole for The Country Pub Project, describing what makes their local so special, and why an Airbnb grant would help revitalise and restore this place in their local community.

“The Country Pub Project received over 9000 nominations,” Airbnb explained. “With so many moving stories about much loved local pubs, we found it impossible to choose just five winners. So we added a sixth. Offering accommodation and already oozing charm, these six country pubs are about to receive some much needed TLC—and a whole lot more guests.

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.

Each winner receives a $50,000 grant and will be paired with a project manager to oversee the on-sight rejuvenation process and an experienced Airbnb host to guide the publican on registering on the platform. In addition, Airbnb will support the town in creating a unique experience to attract guests from near and far to their establishment, launching a campaign to help put the pub and its town back on the map.

Recent research from Airbnb found two in three (70%) Aussies would like to take a regional or rural road trip to see more of the real Australia, yet only 14% of Aussies have in fact spent a night in a regional pub during the past 12 months.

The Country Pub Project; Royal Standard Hotel

Victorian publicans Amy and Steve Robson, who own the Royal Standard Hotel in Toora, South Gippsland, told the Herald Sun 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 (pictured main) took over the Royal Hotel in Sofala, north of Bathurst, in 1968.

“The pub is the centre of Sofala and is where this great community comes together,” 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.”

Airbnb spokesman Brent Thomas said: “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.”

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