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Tourism dudded

Tourism dudded

Claims that the roadmap detours around tourism towns like Walhalla

Local tourism businesses fear the government's roadmap to opening up is a very slow one at a time when visitors should be travelling again.

Many such businesses in Gippsland have closed, while others are barely hanging on.

Walhalla & Mountain Rivers Tourism said it is pleased that a roadmap out of COVID restrictions has now been released, however it is greatly concerned that the tourism industry has been forgotten and is not getting the level of support that is required to see many businesses survive.

“Businesses and towns that are reliant on tourism have been hugely effected by lockdown," said the President of Walhalla & Mountain Rivers Tourism, Russell Wright.

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"While there is much talk about supporting the hospitality industry, this financial support does not extend to businesses reliant on tourism at the same level.

"For example, some accommodation providers, even if they have a liquor licence, are receiving far less support despite often being larger businesses and vital players in the visitor economy.

"The ‘tourism supplement’ which was designed to ensure a level playing field was only paid to tourism operators once and this was way back in June.

"Tour operators, accommodation, caravan parks and hospitality businesses without a liquor license are hugely important parts of visitor economy and are integral to making a destination tick," Mr Wright said.

The head of Walhalla & Mountain Rivers Tourism said they are extremely grateful for the regional Victorians who are getting out to support tourism as best they can. However Mr Wright said they represent less than 25 percent of the Victorian population.

"In large part they are travelling close to home so therefore not staying overnight.

"In towns which are entirely reliant on tourism, such as Walhalla, this is causing massive financial stress.

"Businesses are ‘open’, but there is no real travelling market to fill rooms or tours, and capacity limits further compound the problem.

"To add insult to injury, the ban of construction workers travelling from Melbourne has had the knock-on effect of causing further accommodation cancellations and financial distress. Contractors and tradies have been one of the few avenues available to provide limited revenue during lockdown for so many accommodation providers,” Mr Wright said.

Walhalla & Mountain Rivers Tourism is calling on the state government to properly recognise the tourism industry, including accommodation, tours, transport and small cafes and treat them at least equally to the businesses who have a liquor license.

Mr Wright said he would like to see the ‘tourism supplement’ reinstated and back-dated to when it ended in June.

"The Andrews state government needs to be fair-dinkum about the entire visitor economy and not just support licenced hospitality venues.

"Going forward, direct financial assistance is required in the long term for tourism businesses. This must be more than just travel vouchers as they do not compensate for lost trade during lockdowns.

"The tourism industry, like the arts and entertainment industry, has been the worse effected by COVID lockdowns, yet realistic financial support has been lacking. This must be rectified urgently," Mr Wright said.

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