Destinations

Tourism bodies call for $1.3bn lifeline for Victoria’s devastated visitor economy

The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) and the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) have joined forces to call on the Victorian government to provide a $1.3 billion economic lifeline.

Both parties want their proposed financial support package to be spread over four years and include funding for Visit Victoria, Melbourne Convention Bureau and Business Events Victoria.

The TTF and the VTIC are also pushing for funding for industry initiatives, including major infrastructure investment opportunities around the state.

Furthermore, they are calling on the federal government for the continuation of JobKeeper, which they claim could save over 85,000 tourism jobs in Victoria by September 2021.

The joint plea by the TTF and the VTIC comes as new data reveals 165,000 of the state’s tourism jobs could be lost by this time next year as a result of COVID-19 and the ongoing restrictions.

The data compiled for TTF by tourism economic consultants Stafford Strategy shows the capacity for the Victorian tourism industry to fall off a cliff come March 2021 when the federal government’s JobKeeper subsidy is scheduled to conclude, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said Victoria was a unique case in that it had suffered the triple whammy of the summer bushfires and two COVID lockdowns with little or no intrastate travel, while other states had at least had the benefit of their residents being able to take holidays internally.

“Victoria’s visitor economy has really taken a battering, haemorrhaging almost $2.5 billion per month, and will require life-support over the next few years if it is to retain its position as one of Australia’s most desirable and visited tourist destinations,” she said.

“Sustained and strategic funding over the next four years is a must to restore the state’s tourism industry back to its pre-COVID glory days, and with little international travel likely before the end of next year, the competition for the domestic tourism dollar will be fierce.”

VTIC chief executive Felicia Mariani called on the Victorian government to set a hard reopening date for the industry.

“To hear that the ‘ring of steel’ could be in place until late November is beyond belief,” she said.

“And even with the lifting of travel restrictions, we still have large segments of our industry across indoor attractions, tour and transport and our events sector that have no idea whatsoever as to when they might reactivate.

“This approach is decimating hundreds of Victorian tourism businesses. We have lost international visitors, interstate visitors and now even our fellow Victorians.”

Mariani said the rest of the country is proving it is possible to reopen slowly and safely.

“Our industry has invested enormous effort in preparing COVID-safe plans and ensuring all practices and processes are in place as directed by government,” she said.

“We just need to be able to open.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews delayed the announcement of further restrictions yesterday, as the state awaits the results of more COVID-19 tests from the northern suburbs, where 39 cases have recently been spread across 11 households.

However, in good news for Victorians, the state recorded no new cases of coronavirus overnight and no deaths, marking the first day of zero cases since June.


Featured image source: iStock/Leigh Henningham

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