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Christmas comes early for tourism in regional Victoria

Thursday 10, Dec 2020

The launch of the Victorian Government’s $28 million Regional Tourism Voucher Scheme is an early Christmas present for operators across regional Victoria, according to the industry’s peak body, VTIC.

VTIC Chief Executive, Felica Mariani, said the scheme would drive a boost in regional spend over the upcoming holiday season and beyond and work to establish a firm kick-start to our regional recovery.

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula announced applications for the $200 vouchers would open at 10am tomorrow, with 40,000 on offer in the first tranche.

“The $28 million Regional Tourism Voucher Scheme was a welcome component of the $465 million regional recovery package announced in the 2020-21 Victorian State Budget,” Ms Mariani said.

“We’re thrilled the incentive can be applied not only to accommodation but also to regional tours and attractions. Most interstate programs cover only accommodation, but Victoria’s approach will spread the benefit to other tourism experiences as well,” she said.

Under the scheme announced today, visitors will be required to spend $400 to receive a $200 reimbursement. There will be 120,000 vouchers distributed over three tranches of 40,000 each, with the first tranche valid for travel bookings from 12 December through to 22 January.

“It was great to see that the voucher scheme will be staggered to deliver benefits in the much-needed shoulder and off-peak seasons. While we welcome pre-Christmas vouchers, these incentives are needed even more in the shoulder and off-peak seasons to encourage visitation. This will help tremendously in the slower periods when regional operators need support.”

While this is tremendous news for the tourism industry in regional Victoria, VTIC expressed deep concern over the two-speed recovery that is emerging, with tourism operators in metro Melbourne not sharing in the same pace of recovery as their regional counterparts.

“For Victoria’s recovery to shift into high gear, we need to see Melbourne firing – and that’s simply not happening. There is an immediate need for marketing support that will drive conversion in the greater Melbourne area. The city has 37,500 rooms that are sitting on 25% occupancy right now; and a further 4,000 rooms are due to come on-line in the year ahead, creating more pressure.

“In June, VTIC worked with our industry to deliver a Visitor Economy Recovery Plan to Government. Many aspects of that plan were incorporated into the Government’s budget response this year; the voice of our industry has been heard.

“There remain, however, some major areas that still require focus and attention and recovery of the Greater Melbourne area is the core of this issue. Put simply, there can be no recovery in Victoria until Melbourne is thriving as well. That must be the priority right now in getting our drawcards of major events, business events, live entertainment, and arts and culture back on centre stage.”

To find out more about the scheme, visit the Business Victoria website.