Today’s announcements on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions are a big leap that will finally allow the tourism industry to get back to the business of welcoming guests, according to the industry’s peak body.
The Victoria Tourism Industry Council CEO, Felicia Mariani, welcomed plans to remove the ‘ring of steel’, allow staggered increases of patron numbers in hospitality, and change accommodation rules.
“After nine long months of heartache and struggle brought on by the nation’s harshest lockdown restrictions, Victoria’s tourism industry today received the news that will allow them to start their pathway to recovery,” Ms Mariani said.
“Today’s confirmation that the ‘ring of steel’ will cease to exist from 11.59pm tonight, bringing metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria back together as one is what the industry has been waiting for. Regional Victoria needs people from Melbourne travelling across our state to fully kick-start any hope of recovery.”
Ms Mariani welcomed plans for a marketing campaign to encourage intrastate travel, including to bushfire affected regions.
“It is encouraging to hear that Visit Victoria finally has the green light to undertake marketing campaigns to support tourism in our state. We are really going to need that, especially as borders start to open.”
However, VTIC is seeking clarity on what the announcements mean for the events industry.
“The events sector of our industry has been completely shut down since mid-March, decimating businesses and damaging our reputation as a vibrant event destination. Our enviable calendar of events and festivals, along with our critical business events industry, has been under serious threat. Having no plan for the sector’s reanimation has seen tens of millions of dollars of business exit north to NSW and Queensland,” Ms Mariani said.
“We need a clear plan and timeline for how the events industry can start its revival, so we can fight to retain business here in Victoria, where it belongs.”
National Visitor Survey data to August 2020 released last week by Tourism Research Australia showed that Victoria has lost $8.2 billion in domestic tourism spend between January and August of this year. Victoria has also been the worst affected state in the country with regard to visitor numbers and spend, with declines of 48% and 49% respectively when compared to August 2019.
“These announcements finally provide the industry with hope they can maximise the next few months, providing some level of cushion to set a course for revival,” Ms Mariani said.
“There is still a very long road ahead. From all projections, it will take 3-5 years to get back to where we were at the end of 2019. But today gives our industry the green light to start the journey. We’re in the business of helping our guests to make magical memories. Not being able to do that for the past nine months has been crushing for so many in our sector… today we start again!”