Regional Victoria is already feeling the financial blow of being cut off from metropolitan Melbourne over the upcoming Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
Major regional events have been forced to postpone or cancel due to the lack of tourist numbers Melburnians traditionally bring.
The State segregation comes as the Andrews Labor Government throws Melbourne into another week of Stage 4 lockdown on the back of false positive cases and comments from Chief Health Officer describing the virus as an “absolute beast”, sending waves of fear throughout the community.
With government advice changing late yesterday and infectious disease experts stating there is no evidence the virus is behaving differently, it is imperative that the health advice be released.
Regional events and attractions rely heavily on visitation from Melbourne and every time Melbourne is locked down, tourism in regional Victoria suffers. Accommodation, hospitality, tourist attractions and event operators will suffer a major loss on what should be the biggest weekend during the winter off season.
Key events including Heathcote On Show which attracts some 7,000 people has been cancelled, taking with it an estimated $1.5 million injection into the local economy.
The National Celtic Folk Festival which sees roughly 18,000 people flock to Portarlington has also been cancelled for a second year in a row.
A Junior basketball tournament in Ballarat has been cancelled at a cost to the economy of $4.5 million and a junior soccer carnival, which injects $3 million into the Geelong area is at risk.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Sport, Cindy McLeish:
“Lockdowns should be a last resort only where other measures fail.
“Winter is a difficult time for businesses in regional Victoria, but the Queen’s Birthday long weekend is a chance to help the regions through the quiet times.
“Heath advice needs to be released to provide certainty and understanding around Melbourne’s lockdown.”