The NSW government will roll out its food and entertainment vouchers next month, in a program developed in response to the national hospitality industry association’s ‘eat out to help out’ pitch.
The ‘Dine and Discover’ program will kick off across NSW in late-January 2021, after it’s trialled in December by 500 people, who will be limited to spending at businesses in The Rocks.
The program gives any resident over 18 years access to four vouchers totalling $100, with two vouchers to spend on food, and the remaining two on entertainment.
According to Restaurant and Catering Association CEO Wes Lambert, the vouchers are expected to bring the hospitality and entertainment industries a combined value of between $1-1.5 billion across the state.
“It will drive demand and consumer spending in autumn and early winter, a period in NSW when consumer demand typically goes down,” Lambert tells SmartCompany.
While the vouchers will pay for some expenses on a day out, the idea behind the program is that residents will also spend money from their own wallets — particularly on alcohol — because the vouchers can’t be used on alcoholic beverages.
Businesses wanting to get involved in the program must be registered as COVID-19 safe and express their interest via the NSW government website. Residents will be able to access the vouchers on the Service NSW app.
Lambert says the NSW government developed the program from a submission that Restaurant and Catering made to national cabinet and the state premiers.
“We were ecstatic, as were our members in the industry, that the NSW Treasurer announced the program as the cornerstone of the NSW budget,” Lambert says.
Restaurant and Catering has been actively calling on state governments to adopt similar voucher programs in support of the hospitality industry.
“We have recently remade our submission to the South Australian government, due to the recent lockdowns, caps and restrictions,” Lambert says.
Lambert is also calling on the Victorian government to introduce a voucher scheme that would give every household of two or more people $100 and every single-person household $50 to spend in their local restaurants, cafes or catering businesses.
While the Victorian government has not announced a state-wide voucher program, it did announce $200 tourism vouchers for residents to spend in regional Victoria if they spend $400 on accommodation or other attractions.