Liberal Nationals call for city-based travel voucher

The Liberal Nationals are calling for tourism vouchers to be made available to encourage people living in regional Victoria to visit and stay in Melbourne’s CBD over the summer period. Melbourne offers great attractions, tours, a diverse range of excellent restaurants and loads of different accommodation offerings.

Yesterday, the State Government released the Regional Tourism Voucher Scheme to provide a boost to local businesses and entice people back into regional Victoria after a horror year.

The same incentive needs to be provided to Melbourne businesses. A usually buzzing, atmospheric city that boasts some of the world’s finest restaurants, tourist attractions and nightlife has been decimated for most of the year due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

There have been no workers, no international tourists and no weekenders in the city for the 231 days of lockdown. It is fair to say Melbourne businesses have been hit for six and are struggling to bounce back.

Traditionally regional Victoria is buzzing from Christmas almost through to Australia Day. It is the peak season for families who use the school holidays as an opportunity to get away.  

The Liberal Nationals are encouraging the same summer rush to the city, for people to visit the unique attractions Melbourne has to offer including the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, the Eureka Skydeck and Melbourne Zoo, to book hotel accommodation and dine out at the many restaurants and bars. 

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Sport, Cindy McLeish:

“As much as we need tourism back in regional Victoria, we also need visitors to come and enjoy Melbourne. Tourist attractions, accommodation and hospitality have been hit hard during COVID-19 restrictions and businesses and tourist operators need support to get back on their feet.

“The city has been a ghost town for most of the year. It is deflating to see empty streets, empty venues and empty tables.

“It is time for people to get back into the city and enjoy the attractions, eateries and entertainment our unique city has to offer. That’s what the Liberal Nationals plan to achieve by calling for Melbourne tourism vouchers.”

Comments attributable to Head of Sales and Marketing at the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Nicole Hill:

“Melbourne Star has been back operating our COVID-Safe cabins for the last three weeks with about a third of the number of guests back visiting us as we need.

“Essentially, we’re about 3,000 visitors a week down on last year, and we simply aren’t seeing enough activity to stimulate people back into the city to replace the lack of workers, interstate and international tourists.

“We’re attracting around 50 per cent of last year’s visitors on the weekend, with people filtering back in to go Christmas shopping at The District Docklands, but mid-week, the city is a ghost town and we’ve seen visitation around a quarter of last year.

“In this period before major events return, we need initiatives to spur Melbourne city visitation, and in particular, overnight stays to support the hospitality and tourism businesses that need guests now. Waiting one or two years for major events to come to town is simply too late.

“A voucher scheme that encouraged Victorians to reconnect with the city, stay overnight in a hotel, visit a local attraction and drink and eat at city restaurants, cafes and bars is the kind of kickstart the city economy needs.

“As a precinct earmarked for investment and development in the State Government’s newly created Industry Support and Recovery portfolio, it’s disappointing that the Docklands failed to receive even one mention in any of the hundreds of budget papers.”

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