Michael O'Brien - Percy & Percy

Regional tourism and hospitality needs State Government support

Regional communities have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and need support to recover.

Travel bans put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 meant visitation to regional and country Victoria was smashed overnight.

If we do not take bold steps now to restore Victoria’s tourism sector, our regional tourism businesses – which employ an estimated 86,000 Victorians – will never recover.

Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien today visited Percy & Percy, a great small business in Bendigo.

The Liberal Nationals have proposed a suite of initiatives that the State Government could adopt, that would support regional businesses, including:

  • The Andrews Government must improve Victorian Government purchasing and procurement arrangements to include smaller suppliers, in particular local suppliers in rural and regional areas.
  • Reduce business taxes and excessive regulation – The Andrews Government should waive fees and charges for businesses to 1 July 2021, including business licensing fees, labour hire registration scheme fees and place a moratorium on the employer levy under the long service leave portability scheme.
  • The Government should support local government to waive permit fees on local shopping strip businesses.

The Liberal Nationals have also called for a dedicated $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to be immediately established by the Andrews Labor Government to support our country communities and bring visitors back to regional Victoria.

With an aim to return the tourism sector to June 2019 bed night accommodation levels by June 2021, this Fund should provide targeted support to tourism in different regions to:

  • assist operators to get back on their feet, 
  • promote Victorian tourism destinations, and 
  • upgrade tourism related infrastructure.

The call is part of the Liberal Nationals’ plan to get Victorians back to work and back in business.

Last year the Andrews Government spent more than $100 million on self-promotional advertising, such as its multi-million dollar ‘Big Build’ campaign. 

All Andrews Government self-promotional advertising must be immediately scrapped and redirected into promoting regional Victorian tourism.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“If we want to get regional Victoria moving, it should not be forced to endure lock down rules designed for Melbourne.

“Daniel Andrews should not be penalising our regional communities with ‘work from home’ rules designed to stop overcrowding on Melbourne public transport. 

“It’s time to free up regional communities and allow them to get safely back to work so that jobs can be saved.

“With restrictions now being eased, now is the time to take bold action to restore confidence and jobs to our regional economies.

“Great local businesses like Percy & Percy are doing the best they can, but they deserve support from the State Government.

“The Liberal Nationals have called for $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to encourage visitors to come to country Victorian communities and help businesses get back on their feet.

“Tens-of-thousands of regional Victorians who rely on their jobs in the tourism sector to pay the bills and put food on the table are counting on the Andrews Government to get them back to work and back in business.”

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