On a beautiful day in Northern NSW, holiday makers are exploring the Tweed River at their leisure. Boyd’s Bay Houseboat Holidays help create this special experience for locals and tourists, with the hire of stylish houseboats accommodating up to 12 people.
Owner Greg Ebsworth is a proud Wangkumarra man from North West NSW and he and his partner Nathalie have faced challenges this year with inspiring resilience. For him, the COVID-19 pandemic has been just another storm to weather.
“Like many small businesses we’ve struggled a bit,” he says. “We were closed down for a few weeks from Easter. This had an incredible impact on our business - being shut down for so long with no income coming into the business and the uncertainty of when we would be able to be open to trade again.”
The fast-changing situation in Australia brought about a tumultuous year for business. After weeks of being unable to operate, Boyd’s Bay Houseboat Holidays opened in June and for the next two months, things were looking up. But border closures in late July brought about cancellations from customers unable to travel, causing more financial uncertainty.
IBA’s Business Relief package helped them stay afloat. “Luckily for us, IBA was there for support, offering us a business loan and grant to help ease the financial strains from the limited trade that was caused by the COVID- 19 pandemic,” Greg says.
“It really, really made the difference in us surviving these difficult times.”
Greg and Nathalie have been committed to the business since buying it in 2016, after 16 years away working and travelling the world as yacht captains.
“It gave us a chance to have a real go at making something our own and building a future for our family,” he says.
“IBA have been very supportive… in the beginning with some business mentoring and accounting help and then right through the term of our loan, with our IBA contact constantly checking in with us, helping us and guiding us when needed.”
This isn’t the first challenge beyond their control. The 2018-19 drought had a negative impact on local tourism and having their loan restructured helped them continue. Then in December 2019, one of their boats was damaged by customers causing it to sink. This had a huge effect on their income, losing three months of bookings over the summer holiday period.
These ups and downs haven’t broken Greg’s spirits and he is positive about the coming months. Now that many domestic borders have opened, Greg expects the business to bounce back and the rest of the season to be plain sailing.