NSW business groups applaud $530 million tourism and events package

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Bird's eye view of Sydney. Source: Unsplash/Jamie Davies.

Business groups have welcomed the NSW government’s $530 million support package for the accommodation and events industries, including vouchers for residents to use in hotels across the state.

As part of the Stay and Rediscover package, millions of NSW residents will receive a $50 voucher to spend on accommodation anywhere in the state.

Greg Binskin, executive manager of NSW Tourism Industry Council, said the $250 million top up of the Stay & Discover scheme will help the visitor economy make up “ground lost due to lockdown”.

“Combined with additional Dine & Discover vouchers to spend on local food and experiences, a holiday, attend an event or a visit to family and friends is now on the table for NSW residents,” Binskin said.

The NSW government’s package includes $60 million for the Aviation Attraction Fund, which encourages international airlines to restart flights to Sydney.

In a bid to revive the CBD, the government will spend $6 million on a business events fund, and a further $50 million on the Revitalisation Program.

For event organisers who are forced to cancel events due to public health orders enforced over the summer, the Event Saver Fund will give them immediate support.

The NSW government advised it will release further information about the Event Saver Fund soon.

The package’s final initiatives include $25 million for the Festival Relaunch program and $10 million for the Recovery Marketing Campaign.

Daniel Hunter, Business NSW chief executive, said it was “pleasing” the package supports businesses across the entire state.

“What is particularly pleasing is this is not a Sydney centric package but recognises that all of NSW has a part to play in the economic recovery,” Hunter said.

Last week, the NSW government announced a $250 million boost to the Dine & Discover voucher program, extending it to June next year.

Under the revised package, NSW residents will receive two more $25 vouchers regardless of whether they have used their previous ones.

Voucher schemes have played a key role in the government’s pandemic response strategy, including vouchers for residents to spend in hospitality, entertainment and tourism businesses.

The first round of Dine & Discover vouchers, released earlier this year, included $500 million worth of $25 vouchers.

However, residents did not rush to redeem their vouchers, using only $200 million in vouchers as of June.

Richard Holden, professor of economics at the University of New South Wales Business School, says voucher schemes are an effective way the government can target support for specific sectors.

“[Vouchers] get consumers back in the habit of frequenting those places and give everybody a benefit,” Holden tells SmartCompany.

While Holden says there’s not enough evidence to quantify the benefit voucher schemes have had, consumers will be more willing to use them if COVID-19 cases remain low.

“If we can keep case numbers under control and vaccination rates continuing to grow through all the relevant subgroups of the population, then I think we’ll see a lot of take up,” he says.

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