Tourism Budget focused on crisis recovery, resilience

| February 24, 2020

Support for visitor economy recovery and resilience in the wake of the devastating bushfire and Coronavirus crises, and delivering secure and competitive funding for key demand-driving organisations are key recommendations in the Victoria Tourism Industry Council’s (VTIC) 2020-21 State Budget submission.

With many tourism operators facing a long and difficult road to recovery, it is crucial that the Budget provides sustained funding to rebuild Victoria’s reputation and capability as a first-choice travel destination.

This will require not only continuing crisis relief for affected businesses, but also significant new investment in Victorian tourism infrastructure, transport solutions and products and services that are more aligned to contemporary consumer preferences.

Victoria Tourism Industry Council Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said the recommendations contained within VTIC’s 2020/21 State Budget submission have been informed by direct feedback from tourism members. 

“This includes responses from industry surveys to gauge the impacts of the bushfire and Coronavirus crises, as well as input to the State Government’s Regional Tourism Review. 

“From all the work we’ve done with the industry, we know that operators across Victoria are reeling from the effects of the double-whammy of these disasters. 

Ms Mariani said the bushfires have not only harmed regional Victoria’s brand as a tourism destination, but damaged the infrastructure and natural assets many regional tourism operators depend on to support their businesses.” 

“The adoption of the recommendations will support the industry in this critical time of need.” 

“We need to capitalise on the industry’s strengths and invest in the measures that will grow visitor numbers and expenditure across Victoria.” 

VTIC’s recommendations represent the diversity of the Victorian visitor economy and are a comprehensive and cohesive industry position on the actions needed to keep tourism competitive and grow jobs. These actions include:

Boosting Demand to Grow Victoria’s Visitor Economy
Steps to achieve this:

• A four-year funding commitment of $160 million to Visit Victoria (i.e. $40 million annually)

• A four-year funding commitment of $60 million to the Melbourne Convention Bureau (i.e. $15 million per annum)

• A four-year funding commitment of $4.56 million to Business Events Victoria (i.e. $640,000 annual operating budget and $500,000 annual bid fund).

Supporting Visitor Economy Recovery and Resilience in the Wake of the Bushfires and Coronavirus
Steps to achieve this:

• Funding of $15 million over two financial years to enable Visit Victoria to undertake much-needed crisis recovery marketing and promotion

• A stronger, longer-term funding agreement providing $7-$9 million to support Victoria’s new Regional Tourism Partnerships and enable them to play a leadership role in regional recovery efforts

• Reinstatement of the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) with $50 million per annum over the four-year forward estimates

• $7 million for Parks Victoria to redevelop damaged visitor infrastructure to accommodate reshaping peak visitation periods.

Investing in Improved Visitor Experiences and Infrastructure
Steps to achieve this:

Create a Strategic Destination Masterplan for Victoria

• Develop a Regional Heritage and Cultural Landscapes Tourism Strategy

• Progress an industry-led Nature-based Tourism Strategy

• Extend the maximum length of commercial leases in national parks to at least 49 years and establish new categories of public land assets that allow greater mixed use

• Provide full funding for Melbourne’s Airport Rail Link to ensure it includes a dedicated rail line and underground tunnel that offers a competitive alternative to other transport options.

Improving the Visitor Experience Along the Great Ocean Road
Steps to achieve this:

• Support Phase 2 of the Shipwreck Coast Masterplan by encouraging key private sector led projects that have the potential to take pressure off visitation patterns along the Great Ocean Road and improve the visitor experience; for example, the Eden Project and Cape Otway Road Australia (CORA) Project.