The Victorian government has announced a big budget boost to attract more visitors to the state’s regional areas.
Unveiled by Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday, the $465 million Victorian Tourism Recovery Package has been created to help the sector bounce back after a year of bushfires and strict COVID-19 restrictions.
Victoria’s 2020-21 budget will include up to 120,000 vouchers each worth $200 available to entice more people to visit and stay in regional Victoria.
Under the $28 million initiative, Victorians will be able to apply for the vouchers as long as they spend at least $400 on accommodation, attractions or tours in regional Victoria.
The scheme is expected to be up and running in December to ensure the benefits are felt this summer when businesses need it most.
The state’s budget will also provide more than $149 million to build new visitor accommodation, improve major tourist trails, and drive more people out to taste the world-class produce, food and wine on their doorstep.
More than $47.5 million will build better visitor infrastructure along the Great Ocean Road, including a signature coastal walking trail along the coastline and hinterland from Fairhaven to Grey River.
Victoria will use $2 million of this budget allocation to build more campsites along the Surf Coast.
The $18.5 million Gippsland Tourism Recovery Package will be used to build new accommodation, upgrade the East Gippsland Rail Trail, improve tourism infrastructure across Victoria’s east, and support local jobs.
It includes $3.5 million to build 10 eco-pods at Cape Conran Coastal Park, $2 million for more campsites, and $2.5 million to help establish the Metung Hot Springsand the Nunduk Spa and Eco-Resort.
The package also includes $3.85 million to provide better access to Point Hicks Lighthouse – the tallest on mainland Australia.
Elsewhere in the state, $15 million will go towards works on the popular Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing hiking trail, $13 million will deliver trail heads on the Grampians Peak Trail and visitor upgrades at Mackenzie Falls, and $4.3 million will enable the continued growth of the Prosecco Road winery district, including helping to establish accommodation at Dal Zotto Wines.
There is also support for the Murray River Adventure Trail, facilities at Wilsons Promontory, the Mallee Silo Art Trail, the Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap and the Ballarat Centre for Photography.
A $150 million Regional Tourism Investment Fund will fund nature-based, First Nations arts and culture, and food and wine tourism projects.
A further $1.6 million will support First Peoples’ tourism businesses through advisory services, mentoring and digital skills development.
Another $106.5 million in tourism industry support will include a $58 million marketing boost for Visit Victoria to promote the state’s appeal to Australians, in addition to support to help businesses adapt to new conditions and improve digital literacy.
The Victorian government’s Regional Events Fund has been renewed, with $20 million to continue supporting blockbuster events outside Melbourne.
And the Melbourne Convention Bureau will continue to bring visitors from around Australia and the world to its business and convention events as part of a $9.7 million boost to the Business Events Program.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said: “Whether it’s a day-trip with the family or a tour along our stunning coast, we’re helping more people get out and enjoy the best Victoria has to offer.
“This funding will help tourism businesses bounce back from the challenges of this year – welcoming more visitors and employing more Victorians.”
Victoria’s Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula, said: “Victoria has some of the most amazing attractions in the world, and we’re making sure they only continue to get better and more compelling for visitors.
“Our investment in infrastructure in every corner of the state lays the foundations for a sustained recovery – and that means more jobs for Victorians.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia’s Victorian general manager Dougal Hollis welcomed the package, with the association having made a pre-budget submission to the state government asking for the introduction of a hospitality and tourism stimulus voucher scheme.
“We are appreciative the Victorian government has responded to our submission to support those businesses most in need,” he said.
“Hoteliers have been collaborating with their teams and crafting a range of unique experiences to surprise and delight guests as they are welcomed back.”
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