The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is urging all Victorians to support regional tourism operators as they face a ‘double whammy’ hit to their businesses following the announcement of a two-month ban on Chinese tour groups visiting Australia and huge cancellation rates following the devastating bushfires.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said regional businesses in fire-affected areas were reporting that they would be forced to close their doors if visitation doesn’t increase in the next month or two.
“Tourism operators are telling us that while more marketing spend is very welcome, the benefits of this will likely not be realised until the Labor Day long weekend or Easter break. What they need are visitors travelling to them right now and spending in region to support their operations,” Ms Mariani said.
“What these operators really need – and want – is visitors coming back to their towns and communities.
“We’re calling on residents in Greater Melbourne, Geelong and regional cities and towns to consider taking a few days leave and hit the road across our State. Stay a couple nights in a region, fill up at the local petrol station, eat at the pub, tour with a local operator and fill your esky full of regional produce. Putting money back into these communities is the best way to support the local businesses.
“Victorian tourism operators are now also worried about the effect a two-month ban on Chinese tour groups travelling overseas will have an already embattled industry. Of 3.1 million international visitors spending $8.8 billion in Victoria each year, almost $3.4 billion is spent by the 674,000 Chinese visitors.
“Chinese visitors not only make up a large proportion of the total overseas visitors to Victoria each year, but they are far and away the biggest contributor to our state’s visitor economy,” Ms Mariani said.
“The $3.4 billion Chinese visitors spend in Victoria each year is more than the next nine international markets (India, USA, UK, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan) combined.
“Our members have told us that the four to six-week period between Christmas and the end of school holidays is when can earn up to 50 to 60 per cent of their annual income. The effect of cancellations and now a ban on a lucrative international market will have a devastating impact for operators,” she said.
The Federal Government has committed $76 million to a tourism marketing package under their $2 billion bushfire recovery program.
VTIC and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry are continuing to support members and fire affected businesses with a 12-month, $500,000 support package. Services include mental health support from access to the Victorian Chamber’s Employment Assistance program, local training and business mentoring, Workplace Relations Advice Line and membership fee waiver for bushfire-affected members over the next year.