The entire state of NSW is now in drought and our country areas are doing it especially tough.
We're continuously looking for ways we can help our regional communities, where so many of our Members live. Seeing the drought's impact on farming families is heartbreaking. Our employees were keen to get involved, so the NRMA committed to match all employee donations made to Buy a Bale, Outback Links and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, and Members also have the option of donating to our rural charities through our website.
Recent weeks have seen an extraordinary community response as the magnitude of the challenge sinks in. I've seen generous collections at schoolboy rugby games, my younger kids dressed as farmers at their primary school and my wife has changed our grocery shopping to only buy local.
However, this is a long-term crisis and regional communities are also suffering in other ways. As more people leave to find work in the city, these areas struggle with a lack of investment.
One way we can provide sustainable, long-term support to communities is to grow regional tourism. Our recent report into domestic tourism showed the substantial value tourism - including road trips, caravanning and camping - brings to regional communities across NSW and the ACT.
Tourists spent $110 billion in local towns, cities and communities in 2016-17, and nearly 75 per cent came from domestic visitors. Domestic tourism is the backbone of many regional communities, with 86 per cent of domestic travel done by car.
Australians have had a long love affair with the great Aussie road trip and, for nearly 100 years, the NRMA has supported Members' travels. We'll continue to do so because the domestic holiday is a great way to reconnect, explore our country, and recharge with family and friends, while supporting regional communities.
We want to help make this easier and more affordable for Members, which is why we've invested in growing our network of holiday parks and hotels, and providing visitors with hire cars through Thrifty Car Rental.