With the bushfires in early January followed closely by the COVID-19 crisis, the Visitor Economy in Victoria has faced unprecedented challenges in the start of this new decade. There is no sector that’s been hit as hard and for such a sustained period of time as tourism has been.
Whatever our world looks like on the other end of this current global pandemic, we must acknowledge that things will not just simply ‘go back to before.’ The world will be changed forever by the current course of events and the way consumers engage with products, services and destinations will be radically different. We need to also realise that values will alter as well, and our customers will be expecting the brands they engage with to reflect the values that will emerge in this new world order.
What is critically apparent out of the current challenges is the need to build resilience within our industry; to ensure that when the next crisis comes, we are far better equipped to weather any storm and to have the necessary skills to get back on our feet again quickly.
Our industry is by far one of the most resilient industries – we have proven this again and again as we have recovered from previous global disruptions. Victorian operators need to be supported to harness the innovation and creativity that is at the heart of tourism and be seen as leaders in responding quickly and effectively to our new normal – whatever that may be.
For these opportunities to be realised, it’s crucial that both State and Federal Governments support initiatives to build resilience in what is one of Victoria’s, and indeed Australia’s, major industries. This support will enable the sector to play its role in regrowing the economy and rebuilding the social fabric of our communities across the state.
Victoria will face significant challenges as it looks to shift from ‘survival’ mode to carving a pathway to recovery that will sustain not just its revival, but an environment where the industry can thrive and regain its position as a major contributor to the state’s economic fortune.
With this as a backdrop, the Board of VTIC made the decision to urgently form a VISITOR ECONOMY RECOVERY TASKFORCE with a view to informing the direction of any government recovery response plan and ensure the priorities of industry were front and centre in shaping the future for our critical sector. These measures are designed to support as many businesses as possible make it to the other side of this crisis and position Victoria strongly as Australia reaffirms its position on the global stage.
This submission and its recommendations represent a comprehensive and cohesive industry view on the actions needed to support the recovery of Victoria’s visitor economy to grow into the next decade and beyond.
Industry hopes this work can lead to close collaboration with government to establish a much needed ‘roadmap to recovery’ that delivers on the three key ingredients to restart the sector and set us on a course for success.
These include –
1. Financial support through the survival period to allow businesses time to reactivate in this sustained period of restrictions;
2. Marketing and other demand driving activities that will encourage consumer engagement and visitation; and finally,
3. Clear and concise rules on what operators need to do to comply with new and changing regulations.
The complexities of the visitor economy touch so many areas within the responsibility of government intersecting across economic, industry and regional development, employment, small business, trade, transport, investment, innovation, infrastructure and planning, environment and resources, education and training. With so many various departments of government controlling the levers affecting our industry, it’s crucial there is a whole of government response to the key areas identified by industry during this process.
VTIC stands ready to work with policymakers to implement reforms that will secure the viability of our industry in the short term and achieve sustainable growth of the visitor economy into the future.