Anne Majumdar

An iconic Blue Mountains attraction aims to improve the lives of the local community with a landmark new philanthropic program.

Scenic World has partnered with other organisations in the area in order to build the tourism capacity of the region, preserving the environment and supporting future generations.

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Developed with the input of visitors, staff and locals, the program focuses on three key pillars – community, education and environment.

The project, which has taken a year to finalise, represents a “formalisation” of Scenic World’s long history of philanthropic endeavours, according to Managing Director Anthea Hammon.

“When my grandparents first started the business in 1945, they were always keen on giving back,” she told KarryOn.

Her grandmother would open her garden in Leura and donate the funds to a local home for the disabled while her grandfather would give away free tickets and raise money as a rotarian.

“It’s very much in our blood – that’s what we do here,” Hammon said.

One of the original trains at Scenic World

One of the original trains at Scenic World

She described the Blue Mountains community as “incredibly vibrant and diverse” but highlighted local disadvantage.

“It faces many challenges such as a fragile ecosystem and a community that is touched by low socio-economic factors that impact education and employment outcomes,” she said.

“Scenic World Shared addresses these challenges in a structured way to help strengthen our community and give back to the region we’re proud to be a part of.”

The company will invest 3% of its profits to support partners which include the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, Western Sydney University, Schools Plus, Katoomba High School and the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute.

Passengers head down the old mine tracks at Scenic World

Passengers head down the old mine tracks at Scenic World

The partners were chosen during a “long consultation process” with staff, guests and local industry stakeholders.

“I think the four we have got are a perfect fit and will work really well together,” Hammon said.

Decribing Scenic World as a “custodian” of the area, she explained one of the project’s main aims is to help train staff to help inform guests about the World Heritage Area and how best to sustain it.

Tourists admire views of Three Sisters at Scenic World

Tourists admire views of Three Sisters at Scenic World

Longer term, she hopes to expand the scheme to make it a tourism-wide initiative for the area that helps support and communicate the endeavours of smaller local players.

“There are plenty of smaller businesses that are doing heaps of amazing stuff but don’t necessarily have the communications team to talk about it,” Hammon said.

“It’s about getting them on board and really being able to support everybody in the industry to be able to give more and give more widely to our community.”

Meanwhile, a spell of great winter weather has been helping business to “move along nicely”.

“That gives us the possibility to drive the business forward so we can do things like this and give back – it’s really fulfilling to be able to do that,” Hammon said.

What do you think of this initiative?