As Melbourne’s latest COVID-19 lockdown continues, the Victorian state government has announced another $32.2 million support package for regional tourism businesses.
The package comes ahead of the Queen’s Birthday public holiday, which would typically see city folk travelling to the regions for the long weekend.
Even though Melbourne’s restrictions are scheduled to come to an end at midnight on Thursday, acting Premier James Merlino made it clear last week that travel between the city and regional Victoria will still be off the table.
“The risk of exporting this virus is just too high,” he said.
On Monday, the Victorian government announced 11 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 94 at the time of writing.
The new package provides additional support for eligible businesses, on top of the Business Costs Assistance Package and the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund.
It includes $11.8 million in support supplements for tourism businesses; $4.4 million in support for businesses in Victoria’s alpine resorts; and a further $16 million for regional travel vouchers.
Under the new $11.8 million Tourism Supplement payment, eligible tourism businesses, including accommodation providers, attractions and tourism operators, will be issued a top-up to the second Business Costs Assistance Program.
Tourism businesses in regional Victoria that are already eligible for the $2,500 payment will automatically receive a top-up payment of $4,500, bringing total funding to $7,000.
Those based in metropolitan Melbourne that are eligible for the $5,000 payment will receive a top-up of $2,000, also bringing their total to $7,000.
It is expected the initial payments under the Business Costs Assistance Program will be paid out first, followed by the top-up amount.
Eligible businesses do not have to apply again. Payments will be automatically made to those businesses with the relevant ANZSIC codes. Further eligibility criteria is expected to be released in the coming days.
Alpine support program
The $4.4 million Alpine Support Program is targeted towards businesses based in Victoria’s six alpine resorts, as well as those in Dinner Plain, which could be eligible for grants of up to $15,000.
It is not yet clear exactly which businesses will be eligible for these payments, with guidelines currently being drawn up.
Other ‘off-mountain’ businesses such as tour providers, equipment hire companies or transport companies, may be eligible for payments of $5,000. Again, details on eligibility have not yet been released.
Applications for this program are not yet open.
Regional travel voucher scheme
The state government has poured $16 million into the next round of the regional travel voucher scheme, to encourage people to travel to regional Victoria.
This time, 80,000 vouchers will be up for grabs, worth $200 each. Vouchers can be redeemed for spends of $400 or more over two nights, when holidaying in regional Victoria.
They can be redeemed against the cost of accommodation, visiting attractions or various tours.
Details of how Victorians can apply for the scheme have not yet been released, but it is thought to be a direct continuation of the previous voucher schemes.