Victoria Tourism Industry Council CEO Felicia Mariani welcomed the $287.5 million relief package announced today by the Andrews Government.
The package includes $100 million in grants for sole traders, an $87.5 million program to support a shift to outdoor dining and entertainment, and a further $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund, delivered in partnership with the City of Melbourne.
“For tourism and events operators that have the option of moving outdoors, this is a practical and exciting program of funding to help make the transition to new ways of working,” Ms Mariani said.
“It is a recognition that businesses under stress will require extensive support to comply with the Government’s vision to move activities outdoors as part of COVID-Safe plans.
“Of course there are many, many businesses that do not have the option of moving outdoors and for them the same stresses and heartbreaking challenges remain. Today’s announcement is an important interim step as we continue to work on how we can safely reopen indoors.”
Ms Mariani said sole trader relief was a key priority for the tourism sector, which is comprised primarily of SMEs and micro-businesses who are sole traders.
The relief package will provide grants of $3000 to 33,000 sole traders operating in a closed or heavily restricted environment. Sole traders must be operating from commercial premises to be eligible.
The $87.5 million package to support the move to outdoor eating and entertainment will include $58 million to be allocated in $5,000 grants to hospitality businesses to cover equipment purchase or hire, as well as training and advertising costs.
A further $29.5 million is being made available to councils to support them in quickly implementing and streamlining their processes to shift operations outdoors.
The $100 million in partnership with the City of Melbourne will include $30 million in cash grants for small businesses to help support their transitioning requirements, $30 million to support the creation of COVID-Safe arts and cultural events to bring people back to the city, and $40 million for infrastructure and streetscape improvements to create more open space.
“The $30 million allocated to the creation of arts and cultural events to bring people back to our city is so vital and especially welcomed. Events are a key driver for visitation to Melbourne and they are critical to the heart and soul of our city’s persona,” Ms Mariani said.
A recent PwC study commissioned by the City of Melbourne highlighted the enormous challenge faced by our capital city in recovering from the impacts of COVID-19.
“More than 70% of visitation to Melbourne is derived from interstate and overseas visitors who come to enjoy our incomparable events calendar. How we enjoy events will look different in the short to medium term, and support funding like this will ensure that event organisers are supported in reimaging how we deliver events in a COVID-Safe world,” concluded Ms Mariani.