Tasmanian border to stay shut until December, with locals incentivised to travel

The reflex of Cradle Mountain on the surface of Dove lake during morning at Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia

As the coronavirus continues to affect parts of mainland Australia, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has announced he’ll be taking no chances, with the island state’s border to remain shut to December.

Announcing the decision to extend the state’s border closure, Premier Gutwein said the health, safety and wellbeing of Tasmanians remains his government’s number one priority.

“We cannot run the risk of a second wave in our state and I will not put Tasmanians at risk,” he said.

“We must continue to make decisions that are safe, sensible, and in the best interest of our state.”

Off the back of the news, Tasmania’s Premier revealed the state government would be doing more to help critical sectors – like tourism – most effected by the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s new 1 December border closure date.

A series of support and incentive measures, adding up a total of $7.5 million of support, will be allocated to help drive intrastate visitation, and support and encourage Tasmanians to get out and experience their home state.

Premier Gutwein said his government wants Tasmanians “enjoying everything our unique and beautiful state has to offer at all times”, not just weekends, which would ensure “we spread the benefits more widely and to all areas of the state”.

“Today, we are announcing that we’ll be introducing the ‘Make yourself at home travel voucher’, which means that across the months of September, October and November we’ll be making a total of $7.5 million available to encourage Tasmanians to travel outside of their municipality, to stay midweek in accommodation or to purchase a tourism experience for any day of the week,” he said.

The support will provide up to $100 towards the cost of a room in commercial accommodation, or up to $50 per booking to participate in a tourism experience – whether a cruise, a walk or entry to an attraction, such as the Port Arthur Historic Site or the Tahune Airwalk.

The voucher system is expected to support up to 25,000 bed nights or 50,000 tourism experiences each month.

Gutwein added that his government would also work to get local businesses conducting their meetings or team building workshops away from their base in other parts of the state, where they will be able to access support to also hold “mini-conferences” and meetings.

The guidelines and details of the booking system are expected to be outlined before the end of this month for activation in September.

In a separate announcement, Premier Gutwein also revealed the state government would be providing an additional $1.5 million for schools to conduct “educational and enriching experiences” for students at Tasmania’s tourism, heritage and parks products.

The move to offer vouchers to intrastate travellers by the Tasmanian government echoes a similar decision by the Northern Territory government, which in July began providing a dollar-for-dollar scheme for internal travellers who receive $200 for every $200 they spend.

Featured image: Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain (iStock/CherryMnitan)

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