Tourism industry bodies have voiced both praise and disappointment over the NSW Budget that was announced yesterday.
On Tuesday, the Berejiklian government announced a series of funding and programs outlined in the Budget to help the tourism and travel industry get back on its feet.
Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Australia CEO Margy Osmond said that while the Budget contains the necessary stimulus to enable tourism to survive through Christmas and summer, next year’s 2021-22 Budget will be even more important.
“The NSW Budget contains a series of stimulatory and infrastructure-related measures across the tourism and transport sectors to kickstart the state’s economy over the short term and medium term,” Osmond said.
“However, we are not out of the woods yet, and long-term support for our sectors including for the ailing aviation sector will be needed as domestic border uncertainly continues and air travel confidence remains low.
“As various job support measures also taper off early next year, all NSW eyes will be on the approaching 2021 State Budget.”
Osmond said the Budget’s signature ‘Out and About’ digital travel voucher program will be a lifeline for local cafes, restaurants and cultural attractions.
NSW residents will be given $100 worth of digital vouchers that can be used at eateries and on arts and tourism attractions across the state as part of a flagship $500 million program to help business, stimulate the State’s economy and support local jobs.
Merlin Entertainments has thrown its support behind the new program, with divisional director of the group, Rob Smith, saying it was a welcome step.
“Sydney has so much to offer and it is fantastic to see that there is support on its way to revitalise the city and encourage people back to the businesses people know and love,” he said.
“The next step is the consideration of increasing capacity restrictions so businesses can truly ‘get back to business’ and do what they do best.”
However, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) NSW CEO Michael Johnson said while members welcomed aspects of the Budget, they were disappointed the voucher scheme didn’t include accommodation.
“Many Sydney CBD accommodation hotels are still operating at below 20 per cent occupancy and really need the support,” he said.
“Other states and territories included accommodation in their voucher schemes and the impact on the sector was almost immediate.
“While we welcome the fact two of the NSW vouchers can be used for dining out in accommodation hotels, we really need the scheme to include actual overnight stays to make a big difference and bring people back into the greater Sydney area.
“We hope after the pilot period in December, the full roll-out may be expanded to include accommodation and encourage people to stay at one of our great venues.”
Johnson also admitted he was pleased to see $782 million in funding set aside over the next four years for tourism marketing.
“The $200 million funding boost for Destination NSW in the next financial year will help put both Sydney and NSW front of mind for intrastate and interstate travellers as we continue to wait for the return of our international markets,” he said.
“We applaud Minister Stuart Ayres for that initiative.”
Featured image source: iStock/pamspix