Victorian tourism sector calls for urgent support to survive latest lockdown

Tourism industry bodies in Victoria are calling for increased government support to help operators survive the latest stage 3 and 4 restrictions in Victoria and Melbourne.

“While we completely respect the need for these drastic measures to get the virus under control, this six-week dramatic shutdown will gut our industry and dim the prospects of making it through to the other side of this situation, for many,” Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani said.

“VTIC has already noted the dire circumstances confronting the tourism, events and hospitality sector in Victoria, given that the state has been unable to reactivate at the same rate as other states in the country. On Friday, we called for Victoria to have special consideration from both State and Federal Governments to support the industry in weathering the impacts of these restrictions – and that needs to start with reviewing the decision to reduce the JobKeeper payment from end-September for Victorian operators.”

Victoria’s Accommodation and Food Services sector has been particularly hard hit with a 24.4 per cent decline in jobs, against a national decrease of 18.1 per cent.

“These numbers reaffirm what the Victorian tourism industry has seen and felt for months now, as extended lockdown sequencing has decimated any recovery opportunities the sector might have had,” Mariani said.

“VTIC is calling on the Morrison Government to work closely with the Andrews Government to establish a dedicated program of support to assist the tourism, events and hospitality sector to survive this latest blow – and that needs to start with maintaining JobKeeper at the $1500 per fortnight level beyond the end of September date for reduction of that support.

“The industry also needs to see Business Support Grant Programs reinstated as a priority. The concessional loans that are available will simply not work as operators are not prepared to take on new debt when they can see no means of generating revenue to repay that debt anytime soon.

“At the current rate of progress, the reality is that Victorian operators will likely have to endure the best part of 12 months with little or no revenue. There is no business that could have ever planned to survive in such conditions.

“These unprecedented circumstances will require the full weight of collective Government support to address the clear and extenuating challenges, before one of Victoria’s and Australia’s largest and future facing industries is diminished further.”