• Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC)
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Critical Information for Tourism Businesses

There are many resources available to you and your business to assist you in navigating through the current challenges in the wake of COVID-19, whilst ensuring the health and wellbeing of your staff and visitors.

What are we doing? 

Everyday we are fighting for the survival of our members and the industry. We are working hard to ensure your issues, your priorities and your crises are presented to government in the state and federal arenas. There is not a more critical time to be part of your industry association and know that VTIC is here to support you, to advocate for you and to present the single voice that’s needed to drive home our critical messages right now.

We are regularly updating our members with messages from our Chief Executive, Felicia Mariani. You can view past messages here.

BUSINESS SUPPORT

VTIC is working with the State Government to ensure clear information and guidelines are provided for the Victorian tourism industry, as restrictions ease.

We also want to understand what support your business needs to reopen and recover from this crisis.

For essential information about COVID-19, including symptoms, testing and physical distancing, visit Department of Health and Human Services or phone 1800 675 398.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, so all actions in respect to COVID-19 should be founded on expert health advice and operate under the measures agreed and implemented by governments through the National Cabinet process.

RESTRICTIONS

Business Requirements

From 11.59pm on 5 August, businesses restrictions also apply. Employers that require their staff under Stage 4 restrictions to attend a work site must issue a work permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility.

> PERMITTED WORKER PERMIT – from 11.59pm, 5 August

Every employer must complete their COVID Safe Plan by 11.59pm on 7 August.

> COVID SAFE PLAN

Childcare Permits

From Thursday 6 August, only the children of permitted workers and vulnerable kids will be able to access childcare and kinder. For the purposes of childcare and kinder, a permitted worker can also include someone working from home.

> For more information on childcare restrictions and permit, click here.

Stage 4 – Metropolitan Melbourne

Stage 4 restrictions are in place across metropolitan Melbourne. See below for more details.

> Stage 4 Restrictions

> Stage 4 Permitted Workplaces by Industry

Stage 3 – Regional Victoria

Stage 3 restrictions are in place across regional Victoria. See below for more details.

> Stage 3 Restrictions

For information on holiday travel in Regional Victoria, visit the DHHS page. Here are some details:

Can I go on holiday?

No, holidays are not a reason you can leave your home. Under the new restrictions there are only four reasons that you can leave home: shopping for food and essential items, care, caregiving or compassionate reasons, exercise, and work or study – if you can’t do it from home.

I am currently on holidays – am I required to return home?

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, if you are on holidays, you can continue that holiday, but you must not attend attractions, entertainment venues, and dine-in restaurants, cafes or bars. You must not extend your holidays beyond your original booking. You must wear a face covering when you leave your accommodation.

What if I have booked a holiday, can I still go?

No. The return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions means you will have to cancel travel bookings, unless you are travelling for one of the four reasons that you can leave home (for example to receive medical care). The accommodation operators will need to provide refunds and are eligible to receive assistance through Business Victoria.

The Business Victoria Coronavirus hotline 13 22 15 can also provide you with information on the operation of your business.

> Use the DHHS map to locate the restricted areas

Use of face coverings is mandatory throughout Victoria.

> Information on face coverings in the workplace

The New South Wales border is also closed. Victorian residents require a permit to enter NSW.

Any easing of restrictions and restoring of economic and social activity is done in line with the advice of the Chief Health Officer. Before you reopen your business, please ensure you are familiar with the current restrictions in Victoria.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel and social distancing restrictions are lifting at different times in each state and territory according to their individual circumstances. Tourism Australia has created a map to help industry and consumers navigate the travel restrictions and interstate border openings.

> Australian Travel Status Map

CORONAVIRUS APP

The Coronavirus Australia app allows you to stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.

> Download Coronavirus Australia app

MENTAL HEALTH

Stress savvy in business and Heads Up for Small Business have advice and resources to help you look after your own mental health and manage mental health issues you may experience in the workplace.

Support is also available to you and your family from Lifeline (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636 or online chat).

The Victorian Small Business Commission has also developed a Mental Health Plan guide in
consultation with Beyond Blue, drawing insights shared by Victorian small business owners with lived experience of overcoming mental health challenges.

> Small business owner’s guide to creating a mental health plan

CLICK FOR VIC

Premier Daniel Andrews launched Visit Victoria’s new campaign, Click for Vic, encouraging Victorians to support our tourism industry by connecting consumers with local producers, creators and businesses across the state. You can read the Premier’s press release here.

How to get involved

– Join the campaign by using #clickforvic #visitvictoria and #visitmelbourne as well as your hashtags, when sharing posts
and images on social media and encourage your customers to do the same.

– Leverage the campaign messaging in your communications.

– List your business’s shoppable online products on the Visit Victoria consumer website (via the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW))

– List products on the following third-party e-commerce platforms, where relevant for your business: Victorian Country Market, Providoor and Co-lab Pantry.

> More information available here.

> Campaign overview and toolkit.

MENTAL HEALTH IN BUSINESS

The Partners in Wellbeing telephone hotline will be expanded to provide business owners under stress with free access to business advisers and financial counsellors. Its hours will soon be extended until 10pm each night and over weekends. If you are distressed or anxious about your business, call Partners in Wellbeing at 1300 375 330.

CREATING A COVID SAFE WORKPLACE

A COVID Safe Plan helps protect your employees, customers and visitors and to prepare for a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace. Every employer must now have a complete COVID Safe plan.

> For more information, click here.

INFECTION CONTROL TRAINING

The infection control training is a new accredited skill set course. This free training, which is a mixture of online and workplace-based learning, is available to help staff identify and manage the ongoing risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in their workplace. This will help businesses safely reopen and ensure their customers and workforce are protected.

> More information, click here.

HOSPITALITY TRAINING

The Victorian Government requires hospitality businesses, and any other businesses that offer food and drink facilities, to take the free online coronavirus (COVID-19) training. It is the Government’s expectation that:

a. at least one staff member at every venue will have completed the training;
b. all staff should make themselves familiar with Government’s guidelines; and
c. posters be displayed at the venue confirming that staff have reviewed the guidelines and completed the training as required.

> Register and Start your Training

SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA

Safe Work Australia has published the National COVID-19 safe work principles that have been agreed and implemented by the National Cabinet.

The Safe Work Australia website also includes industry-specific guidelines, resources for businesses to download – including checklists, infographics and posters on hygiene and physical distancing. You’ll also find information relating to work health and safety (WHS) laws, workers’ rights, risk assessments and emergency plans in the event of an incident.

> More information on Safe Work Australia

COVID CLEAN ONLINE TRAINING

The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) in partnership with VTIC, has developed a COVID-Clean online module available to all tourism businesses. COVID Clean provides core base-practices that businesses can employ to prepare to open and operate safely within the current environment.

Businesses will receive tailored cleaning checklists, a risk register, and a logo to signify their commitment to these new procedures, giving greater customer confidence.

Please note: businesses that are not already accredited will need to sign up and complete Accreditation Level 1 to access the COVID Clean module. Accreditation fees have been waived until December 2020. Please see details below.

> COVID Clean Online Training

FREE ACCREDITATION

Accreditation fees have been waived until December 2020 as part of our continuing support for industry.

The Quality Tourism Framework (QTF) is a single online pathway to support the continuous growth and development of Australian tourism businesses of all sizes. It provides businesses with tools and resources to ensure best practice management, customer confidence and ongoing sustainability. It has never been more important to go through the process of accrediting your business.

> For more information, click here

COVID-19 BUSINESS RECOVERY 

To assist with your recovery planning, ATIC and VTIC have developed a business recovery module that covers key sections of your planning, including: an assessment of your current business situation, continuity actions, staff management, financial analysis, operational recovery and marketing and communications.

> More information on the Business Recovery Module

WORKING WITH TOURISM AUSTRALIA

Tourism Australia has put together an overview of key resources and opportunities available to help businesses engage with TA’s domestic marketing activities. They will be updating this document regularly as more resources become available. See the overview here.

FREE ATDW LISTINGS

ATDW listings provide an effective way for Victorian tourism businesses to showcase their products or services on key tourism websites at a national, state and regional level.

For a limited time only, sign up for a free ATDW listing here.

WORKPLACE IMPACTS

We encourage employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff.

The Australian and Victorian Chambers have produced an Employer Guide for managing the workplace in the face of the outbreak which includes; understanding your risks, employer obligations, working from home, changing or scaling down operations and business shut down.

For information and assistance on any aspect of your employment obligations, the Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations Advice Line (03) 8662 5222 can help.

The Department of Home Affairs has information for Visa holders on staying in Australia > click here.

A MENTAL HEALTH GUIDE

The Victorian Small Business Commission has developed a Mental Health Plan guide in consultation with Beyond Blue, drawing insights shared by Victorian small business owners with lived experience of overcoming mental health challenges.

> Small business owner’s guide to creating a mental health plan

Business Victoria has launched a tool to help you determine what support at a state and federal level you may be eligible for. The finder will ask you a series of questions to help find the assistance you may be eligible for based on your circumstances.

Launch finder

You can find more information on Federal Packages on The Treasury website.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry has also launched a number of guides to assist you with these packages.

SUPPORT FOR SOLE TRADERS

> For more information, click here.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENT

JobKeeper 1.0

IMPORTANT: As a result of the changes in this Program, employers MUST revisit their employees eligibility for JobKeeper 1.0 by 21 August 2020 to ensure their business remains eligible and to maximise entitlements.

These new changes will be applied retrospectively and mean you will be able to take advantage of the new change from the JobKeeper fortnight commencing 3 August 2020. This means that employers will need to identify any ‘newly eligible’ employees – essentially employees who did not meet the original eligibility criteria effective on 1 March 2020, but do satisfy the amended criteria under the new rules.

Click here for the ACCI Employer Guide to JobKeeper and for a useful JobKeeper Alert – Information Sheet

Jobkeeper is a fortnightly payment made by the ATO of $1,500 per eligible employee, for a maximum period of 6 months. This is available to business that:

– Has an annual turnover of less than $1 billion and they estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 30 per cent or more, OR

– Has an annual turnover of $1 billion or more (or is part of a consolidated group for income tax purposes with turnover of $1 billion or more) and they estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 50 per cent or more.

Self-employed individuals will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment where they meet the relevant turnover test outlined above.

For charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC), they will be eligible for the subsidy if they estimate their turnover has or will likely fall by 15 per cent or more relative to a comparable period.

> View Government fact sheets

The Federal Government is extending the JobKeeper Program to March 2021. *Please note the extension beyond September will bring a reduction in the payment rate and changes to the eligibility.

> For more information, click here.

JOBSEEKER PAYMENT

The JobSeeker Payment if a financial help for those between 22 and Age Pension age and looking for work. It’s also for when you’re sick or injured and can’t do your usual work or study for a short time. Please note, under the new temporary arrangements, a range of eligibility criteria have been relaxed and some waiting periods removed.

> For more information on JobSeeker Payment.

CASH FLOW FOR BILLS

If your small or medium-sized business employs staff and has an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million, you may be eligible for two sets of cash flow boosts up to $100,000. These payments are designed to help keep your business operating, pay rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff. The first boost happened from 28 April 2020 and the second is for the periods of June to September to be delivered in instalments depending on reporting periods.

> More information is available here

ACCESS TO SUPERANNUATION

Access of up to $10,000 of superannuation were provided in FY 2019-20 and a further $10,000 is available for FY 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect income support payments.

>  More information is available here

AUSTRALIAN BANK LOAN REPAYMENT DEFERRALS PHASE 2

Australian banks have deferred loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months. As customers approach the end of their six-month loan repayment deferral period, banks are implementing phase two of their COVID-19 support. This may involve an extension to repayments.

> Australian Banking Association 

CORONAVIRUS SME GUARANTEE SCHEME

The COVID-19 SME Guarantee Scheme allows businesses to access additional loans from participating lenders through the coming months. The scheme has commenced in April and will be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.

> More information is available here

ATO ASSISTANCE

For owners or directors of a business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, the ATO will assist their circumstances, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions.

Fact sheet 

ASSET WRITE-OFF

Increase in instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 for businesses with turnover of less than $500 million.  In addition, if purchasing new depreciable assets, there is access to time limited 15–month investment incentives to accelerate depreciation deductions.

More information is available here 

EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANT (EMDG) SCHEME

In addition to increased EMDG program funding, the EMDG export performance requirements for 2020–21 has been waived. This will ensure businesses will not have their EMDG reimbursement reduced should their export income fall due to COVID-19. To further assist exporters in 2020–21, the Minister has also determined the Initial Payment Ceiling Amount (IPCA) to be $100,000.

> More information is available here.

COVID-19 RELIEF AND RECOVERY FUNDING

This includes:

Regional Airlines Funding Assistance – for smaller regional airlines operating Regular Public Transport services

Regional Air Network Assistance – airlines that were operating Regular Public Transport air services in regional locations prior to COVID-19, are eligible to apply for a grant to operate a basic level of air connectivity per week on each route

Crisis Relief for Regional Arts – targeted support to arts organisations and artists in regional and remote Australia,

Commonwealth National Parks (Support for Tourism) Fee Waivers – temporary relief from licence fees and permit charges levied by the Director of National Parks for the period of 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2021, and rent relief to tenants of the National Botanic Gardens.

> More information is available here

ZOOS AND AQUARIUM FUNDING

This initiative provides vital funding to exhibiting zoos and aquariums whose tourism revenue stream has stopped as a result of the travel and social distancing restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Funding will assist these businesses with the fixed operational costs associated with caring for animals, and will help exhibiting zoos and aquariums to remain viable and ready to welcome tourists when restrictions are eased.

> More information is available here

APPRENTICE AND TRAINEE WAGE SUBSIDIES

Apprentice and trainee wage subsidies are available for small businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee.  Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the nine months from 1 January – 30 September 2020.

More information

Business Victoria has launched a tool to help you determine what support at a state and federal level you may be eligible for. The finder will ask you a series of questions to help find the assistance you may be eligible for based on your circumstances.

Launch finder

SOLE TRADERS/SELF EMPLOYED

> Find more information, click here.

BUSINESS SUPPORT FUND – EXPANSION

To support businesses impacted by recent restrictions, one-off grants will be made available to eligible businesses:

– $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire

– $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire)

> For more information, click here.

Please note: The Business Support Fund which closed on 1 June and the Business Support Fund – Expansion  are two separate programs. If you have previously applied to the Business Support Fund grant, you will need to complete another application for the Business Support Fund – Expansion.

HOSPITALITY BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM

This program supports larger food service businesses that have been affected by the return to Stage 3 and Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions.

Eligible businesses will be provided with a one-off, $25,000 grant to pay for business costs to support the continued operation of the business. An additional $5,000 is available for each additional premises located within metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, capped at a total of $20,000.

Eligible businesses with premises located in Melbourne CBD (postcodes 3000, 3005, 3006 and 3008) will also be eligible for an additional $20,000 grant to help them through the large and sustained shock to their trading environments.

> For more information, click here.

CBD SMALL HOSPITALITY GRANT 

The CBD Small Hospitality Grant provides additional support to small and medium hospitality businesses in Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) that have previously received a grant from the Business Support Fund – Expansion program.

> For more information, click here.

NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY BUSINESS SUPPORT PROGRAM

Victoria’s night-time economy is the envy of the nation, but right now, the deadly pandemic means it’s had to do the heavy lifting to keep us all safe. The Victorian Government has launched a $30 million dedicated fund for the hardest hit businesses in hospitality.

> For more information, click here

REGIONAL TOURISM ACCOMMODATION SUPPORT PROGRAM

The Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program has been extended until 14 September 2020 for cancellations made until Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions end on 13 September 2020, or when funds have been exhausted.

All applicants that have not yet received payment for this program will get an email to update their application. If you have already received payment, but have not reached the cap, you will also be offered an opportunity to make an additional application.

At this stage, the Program has not been expanded to include other areas beyond the eleven Victorian Regional Tourism Regions.

> More information, click here.

POSTCODE REQUIREMENT
Identifying that cancellations have come from the affected postcode areas is a requirement to claim under the program. To help you identify these postcodes: 

Advice from Expedia:

Once the hotel is contacted by Expedia regarding a cancellation, you can use the Message Central on the PartnerCentral tool to ask the guest where they booked. The great thing about this tool is that you can set-up a template so that you don’t have to re-type the same question(s) again . 

If you wish to, you can also ask for a proof of address (phone bill, driver’s license, etc.) and the guest can reply via an email and attach documents. 

Advice from Booking.com:

– How to guide to find guest details?  Reservations Tab

– How to get in touch with the guest?  Guest Messaging 

LAND TAX RELIEF

On 20 August 2020, the Victorian Government announced further land tax relief for landlords, as part of its extension of the commercial and residential tenancy relief schemes until 31 December 2020.

Landlords of residential and commercial properties who provide a 50% or more outright rent waiver of at least 3 months’ rent to eligible tenants can claim a 50% waiver of the property’s 2020 land tax and defer payment of the remaining tax to 31 March 2021.

Owner-occupiers of commercial properties can obtain a 25% waiver of the property’s 2020 land tax and payment of the remaining tax can be deferred to 31 March 2021 if their business meets the conditions outlined on the link below.

> For more information, click here

COMMERCIAL TENANCY RELIEF SCHEME

The Victorian Government has extended rent reductions for small businesses that continue to suffer under tough COVID-19 restrictions across the state.

Commercial landlords will now be required to provide rent reductions to tenants “in proportion” with falls in their turnover, while bans on evictions and rent increases will be extended until the end of the year.

> See the media release here. More details to be available on this page soon.

SEASONAL HEAVY VEHICLE REGISTRATION 

Seasonal registration allows you to nominate parts of the year in which you intend to use your heavy vehicle. You are only required to pay for the months the vehicle is intended to be used.

> For more information, click here
> Seasonal Registration form

FUNDING BOOST FOR TAXIS AND COMMERCIAL PASSENGER VEHICLES

The Government will invest $22m towards a range of initiatives to boost the industry. This will include:

– $6m to subsidise depot fees paid by vehicle owners to ensure wheelchair vehicles are available for those in need;
– $1.7m to double the wheelchair lifting fee paid by Government for the next 3 months
– Multi Purpose Taxi Program subsidy increased from 50 to 70% per cent per fare over the next 3 months
– Refund of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Service Levy paid by drivers in the 2019/2020 June quarter
– $3.5m worth of grants to support increased cleaning and sanitation of vehicles
– The package comes on top of other measures: pausing of regulatory fees and the $1500 Coronavirus Worker Support Program for drivers who contract the virus or are required to self-isolate.

> For more information, click here.

PAYROLL TAX RELIEF

– Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million can defer, until January 2021, paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.
– Additional payments under the JobKeeper program are now exempt from payroll tax

> For more information, click here

LIQUOR LICENSE FEE RELIEF

Liquor licensing fees for 2020 will be waived for affected venues and small businesses.

Businesses that have paid for a renewable liquor licence for 2020 will be reimbursed their licence fee and those yet to pay will have the fee waived.

>For more information, click here

CITY OF MELBOURNE

City of Melbourne grants portal

City of Melbourne COVID-19 Business Concierge Hotline: 03 9658 9658 (press 1 for business). Available 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday or anytime online.

SMALL BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION GRANTS

Apply for a share in $8 million worth of grants, open to businesses in CBD, Docklands and Southbank. Another $2 million in services and support will be coming soon.

The small business transformation grants are open to businesses affected by COVID-19 in these postcodes: CBD 3000, Docklands 3008, Southbank 3006 and World Trade Centre 3005, across all sectors excluding hospitality.

Applications close on 3 September.

> For more information, click here.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SUBSIDY 2020-21

The professional development subsidy allows local not for profit community organisations to nominate professional development opportunities that will enhance the delivery of outcomes for the community.

Organisations can nominate workshops, training sessions, structured mentoring, conference attendance or other type of professional development opportunity for subsidy through this fund.

Submissions close 5pm 30 April 2021.

> For more information, click here.

 

 

 

For further information visit:> City of Melbourne

TOURISM AUSTRALIA
For the latest updates from Tourism Australia visit their website.

VISIT VICTORIA
For the latest updates from Visit Victoria visit their website.

PARKS VICTORIA
For the latest on park openings and closings visit their website.

HOTELS & HOTEL STAFF
The Department of Health has information for hotels and hotel staff, as well as for hotel guests.

TOURISM GREATER GEELONG & THE BELLARINE
For businesses in the Greater Geelong and Bellarine regions, Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine have a dedicated resource to assist you via their website.

DESTINATION GIPPSLAND
For businesses operating in the Gippsland region, information is available here.

GRAMPIANS TOURISM
For businesses operating in the Grampians region, Grampians Tourism has information available here.

PHILLIP ISLAND
For tourism businesses in Phillip Island, Destination Phillip Island has information and industry updates available on their website.

MURRAY
For tourism businesses in the Murray region, information and updates from Murray Region Tourism are available on their website.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD
For businesses operating on the Great Ocean Road, information is available from Great Ocean Road Tourism here.

VTIC WEBINARS

VTIC Insight Series

Given the current challenges the tourism, events and hospitality industry is facing in the wake of COVID-19, we have have launched the VTIC Insight Series.

To prepare for the future, the online Insight Sessions will help members get in front of the curve when the time comes to reconnect with consumers.

These online sessions occur fortnightly commencing from 21 April.  To view the upcoming sessions, click here.

EXTERNAL WEBINARS

Australian Taxation Office
– Cash flow for small business success
– Digital options for small businesses
– Tax support for small businesses
– Budgeting for your commitments
Various dates
> Register now

Tourism Australia Coronavirus Webinar Series
Every Friday morning
> Register now

Industry Survive & Revive Sessions
The Travel Industry Hub
Ongoing
A series of webinars aimed at assisting both individuals and businesses during these troubled times.
> View webinars

Build Back Better Webinars & Road to Recovery Tourism Tutorials
Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC)
Ongoing
> View webinars

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