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William, Kate to visit bushfire-hit towns

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Locals in the bushfire-ravaged NSW South Coast hope a potential royal visit by Prince William and his wife, Catherine, will help the region rebuild.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to issue a formal invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge later this week after being in discussions with Kensington Palace about the bushfire tour.

Bega Valley Shire Council mayor Kristy McBain says the visit would be positive because it would keep the devastated community in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“The spotlight that follows the royals would transfer to the area,” the mayor told AAP on Tuesday. “It’s really nice they get how important it is to use their presence and their stature to highlight how important it is to rebuild and assist small Australian communities.”

It’s hoped a visit by the British royals would boost tourism to the area after the bushfires drove many businesses to the brink during what is usually their peak season.

“Any additional visitors to our area would be a benefit to a number of our small businesses,” McBain said.

Mogo Wildlife Park director Chad Staples says any publicity for the region is good.

The wildlife park was forced to temporarily close while staff worked to protect animals from fires over summer.

“It’s nice we’re at least on the radar,” he told AAP on Tuesday. “Even if it gives one person a positive moment it’s good.”

Staples hopes a visit by William and Kate will encourage others to return to the “beautiful” part of Australia.

The trip would be William’s fifth visit to Australia and the couple’s first since 2014.

No dates or locations for the potential bushfire tour have been settled as yet.

The prime minister is expected to propose a program in his official letter to the palace.

with AAP

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