Regional communities have been hit hard by drought, bushfire and now the coronavirus pandemic.
Travel bans put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 meant visitation to 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.
The Liberal Nationals are calling 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.
The Andrews Government should also complete projects including the Grampians Peaks Trail, re-open the iconic Mt Buffalo chalet and upgrade nature-based facilities to get people back to bushfire-impacted north-east Victoria and Gippsland.
Comments attributable to the Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:
“With restrictions being eased, now is the time to take bold action to restore confidence and jobs to our regional economies.
“I am proposing a $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to encourage visitors to come to country Victorian communities and help businesses get back on their feet.”
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh:
“Our country communities and small businesses have been hit hard by drought, bushfires, and now the coronavirus pandemic.
“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.”