$5 million State Government support fund to help with cancellations brings some relief for regional
Today’s announcement by the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Martin Pakula, of a $5 million support fund to assist struggling accommodation businesses with cancellations following the reinstated lockdown of 10 hot spot postcodes is welcomed by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC).
VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said, “This announcement provides a critical lifeline to accommodation businesses that are facing yet more hardship as a result of cancellation fees that will result from residents in these particular postcodes being told they can no longer travel.”
The State Government this week told Victorians that 10 postcodes in the affected 36 suburbs of outer Melbourne would revert to Stage 3 restrictions effective from 11.59pm on 1 July. The Premier noted that, if people have not commenced their travel for school holidays, they were no longer able to do so; acknowledging this would have serious implications for accommodation operators across regional Victoria.
“The Andrews Government’s offer to provide operators with a maximum of $225 per bookable product per night for cancellations at their properties, will make a huge difference to many across regional Victoria who are already on the edge after so much disruption to their businesses over the past many months.
“While implications of this travel ban for these hot spot areas go beyond just the accommodation sector within our industry, this sector in our regional areas will likely bear the widest brunt of these latest restrictions,” Ms Mariani said.
VTIC has undertaken a survey of its accommodation members in regional Victoria to monitor the situation and to have a clearer picture of the economic implications of these new restrictions as a result of the spike to infections in Victoria.
“Very early results to the survey we distributed yesterday are indicating that about 70% of respondents have been affected by these restrictions; 13% are not affected; and 17% are unsure. The average length of stay for visitors was two nights and reported losses so far have ranged from $500 to as high as $12,000-$15,000.
“The tourism, hospitality and events industry has been decimated by the rolling crises of bushfires and now coronavirus. It’s imperative that every lever is pulled to allow these businesses to reboot, and that includes considering a two-speed reactivation of the sector.
“We need to see our regional towns and centres that have seen few, if any cases of COVID-19 in their communities, have a more rapid easing of their restrictions, including a shift to 50 patrons and a reconsideration of the 4sqm density quotient in these areas.
“VTIC will continue to engage with our industry to shape a clearer picture of how these restrictions are affecting their businesses and we’ll be taking these insights to government in our efforts to assist the sector in getting back on the road to recovery,” Ms Mariani concluded.