Victoria’s tourism and major events industries have been dealt a massive blow, with the Andrews Labor Government cutting a whopping $280.1 million from the sector at a time when the industry needs it most.
Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearings revealed the 59 per cent budget cut has placed the 2021-22 tourism and major events budget $31 million below the pre-COVID-19 budgets of 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Tourism and event operators face ongoing uncertainty due to the harsh COVID-19 restrictions and snap lockdowns which have crippled the sector. Regional tourism had only begun to recently bounce back when it was hit by the fourth lockdown, shutting it off to Melbourne visitation and forcing many key regional events to postpone or cancel over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
The Andrews Labor Government does not recognise the crucial need to provide the tourism and major events industry with a safety net if Victoria was to be plunged into a fifth lockdown.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism contributed to 6.5 per cent of the Victorian economy and provided 7.8 per cent of Victoria’s employment. Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) was a $32 billion industry at the end of 2019, comprising of $20 billion spent by international and interstate visitors to Melbourne.
Victoria is the only state to have a record four lockdowns and all Victorians, particularly small business and tourism, are paying the price. It’s clear Dan has no plan and it’s putting the economic recovery at risk that Victorian people worked so hard to earn.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Sport, Cindy McLeish:
“The tourism and major events industry has been brought to its knees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Andrews Labor Government clearly needs to support it, rather than make it more difficult.
“Unpredictable snap lockdowns, restriction changes, huge budget cuts and a lack of support from the Andrews Labor Government has hit the tourism and events industry hard.
“We are still facing a pandemic. Now is not the time to cut budgets by 59 per cent and offer no safety net.
“Dan has no plan for Victoria’s economy or jobs and it’s clear the Andrews Labor Government is just making decisions on the run.”