EMPTY beds are the hallmark of bushfires and drought at Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Hotel bookings have dropped by 30 per cent at some places thanks to rumours the festival is cancelled.
Enter the Festival Friendly Business program.
The Tamworth Regional Council initiative will have one business highlighted each day on the festival's social media pages, in an effort to give a boost to employers and the economy.
"We're trying to broaden the net," council economic and destination development co-ordinator Kate Baker said.
"A lot of food and accommodation retailers do well, but the other sectors are overlooked a little bit, so we're encouraging visitors to support them as well while they're in the city.
"What it's about is encouraging visitors to support local business, shop locally and just encourage a really enthusiastic atmosphere in the retail sector during the festival."
About 50 businesses have signed up for the program so far.
Across the city, the average decline in hotel bookings is about 13 per cent.
Some of that is due to tourists being trapped by fires on the south coast.
Casual festival jobs have not been offered at some businesses this year, employers choosing not to take the risk.
The economy is expected to take a 10 to 15 per cent hit on usual country music takings, Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer said.
"I think social media is a powerful thing and I would encourage any stakeholder - whether hospitality, accommodation, entertainment venue - to send that positive message," he said.
"Encourage people to come and experience the festival themselves.
"Now's the perfect opportunity where the town needs support."
Employers can get involved in the Festival Friendly Business program through Tamworth Regional Council.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival is on from January 17 to 26.