The Victorian state government has announced $3 billion in new support for businesses, including Victorian hospitality businesses and the region’s ski fields.
According to media release from Premier Daniel Andrews, the multi-billion-dollar package will be delivered in the form of cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support.
More than $1.1 billion in cash grants will support small- and medium-sized businesses, alongside a $251 million Licensed Venue Fund for the state’s hospitality sector, offering grants of up to $30,000.
The government has also waived liquor license fees for 2021.
“For our state to recover, we need our businesses to recover too. As we take our first safe and steady steps towards COVID-normal, this support will help make sure we get through this together,” Premier Andrews said in a statement.
“We’ll continue meeting with and listening to businesses, so we can do everything we can to support them and their workers.”
Andrews announced the package on Sunday, reportedly to the relief of business and industry groups appealing for government assistance, and as Victoria recorded 41 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths.
Victoria’s ski fields are set to receive support through the $3 billion package, with the government providing businesses in the state’s alpine resorts grants of up to $20,000 to help cover their resort fees, which the government said would save them a combined $4.3 million.
It comes after ski fields and alpine resorts were forced to close to visitors during Victoria’s ‘Stage 3 Stay at Home’ coronavirus restrictions, which applied across regional Victoria.
However, from Monday, regional Victorians have moved to step two of the state’s roadmap, with up to five people from two households allowed to gather in a public outdoor space.
Additional payroll tax relief was also announced as part of the support package, to the tune of $1.7 billion in payment deferrals for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million – a move cautiously welcomed amid fears the deferrals could create “zombie” businesses, as reported by The Age.
Furthermore, $20 million will be set aside for small businesses to power up their e-commerce efforts.
‘Click for Vic’ campaign reaches one million Victorians
Meanwhile, the Andrews government also announced a boost in support for the state’s new grassroots tourism campaign, ‘Click for Vic’, with $8.5 million set aside for more marketing and advertising.
The funding will also support an expansion of the campaign’s digital platform and its partnerships with third-party e-commerce providers to “sell these strengths far and wide”.
It comes Visit Victoria revealed Click for Vic has seen more than 249,000 visits to its webpages since launching on 23 August.
The intrastate campaign has also recorded 287,000 clicks through to operator websites, and reached 1 million Victorians through television, print, radio, digital and social media.
In addition, 6,500 new email subscribers have joined since launch, alongside a 360 per cent increase in traffic to the Victoria Country Market website and a 300 per cent increase in online sales through Victoria Country Market.
Accommodation association welcomes support
The support for Victoria’s accommodation sector was welcomed by the state’s peak tourism accommodation body, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA).
However, TAA Victoria general manager Dougal Hollis called for the state government to revisit its roadmap for COVID-19 recovery with allowances for regional venues.
“Our sector has been amongst the hardest hit since March so we will gladly accept any government support we can get,” Hollis said in a statement.
“It is good to see the dire situation facing our industry recognised and we will continue to work closely with the government on the implementation of the package.
“What we really need, however, is for the government to now revisit its roadmap, especially when it comes to accommodation hotels located in regional areas more than 100 kilometres from any active COVID-19 case.
“Our members are being hard-hit both emotionally and financially – we need to be able to re-open where it is safe to do so and we already have the skills and operational practices in place to keep our venues COVIDSafe.
“No one wants to see a third wave but we have to bring some common sense into the mix especially when it comes to regional Victorian hotels demonstrating they can now re-open in a safe and sustainable manner, paving the way for metropolitan venues to soon follow suit,” he said.
TAA CEO Michael Johnson said he was thankful for the grants when it came to struggling smaller hotels and motels.
“But I remain concerned about larger accommodation hotels which carry the bulk of the jobs in the Victorian accommodation sector – thousands of jobs remain on the line as the extended lockdowns continue,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Major CBD hotels have been operating at sub-10 per cent for many months and as such need real help and support.
“Whilst the grants of $30,000 are welcomed, the cap of $10 million for deferred payroll tax payments will put many of the big hotels out of the running and continue to drive their debt cliffs, job losses and possible closures,” he said.
Featured image: Mount Buller summit (source:iStock/YvonneMarianna)