The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says the state government must kickstart Gippsland businesses and economies in the wake of months of unprecedented hardship.
Mr O’Brien said The Nationals are calling for a dedicated $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to be immediately established by the Andrews Labor Government to support country communities and bring visitors back to regional areas like Gippsland, when allowed.
“Much of Gippsland was hit hard by drought and bushfire and now the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr O’Brien said
“Travel bans put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 are destroying the already struggling regional tourism industry and for the Gippsland area, that is exacerbated after the bushfires. We heard in a Parliamentary hearing today from Visit Victoria that $23 billion will be wiped off the Victorian visitor economy this year. That is extraordinary.
“If we do not take bold steps now to restore Victoria’s tourism sector, our regional tourism businesses – which employ an estimated 86,000 Victorians – will struggle to recover as travel restrictions are gradually eased.”
Mr O’Brien explained the aim of the fund would be to return the tourism sector to June 2019 bed night accommodation levels by June 2021.
“The fund would provide targeted support to tourism in different regions to assist operators to get back on their feet, while also promoting Victorian tourism destinations and upgrading tourism related infrastructure.”
The call is part of the Liberal Nationals’ plan to get Victorians back to work and back in business. It can be funded by reducing waste – last year the Andrews Government spent more than $100 million on self-promotional advertising, such as its multi-million dollar ‘Big Build’ campaign.
Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh said country communities and small businesses have been hit hard by drought, bushfires, and now the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tens-of-thousands of regional Victorians who rely on their jobs in the tourism sector to pay the bills and put food on the table are counting on the Andrews Government to get them back to work and back in business.”
Mr O’Brien said the Andrews Government must also complete crucial local projects like the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale and upgrade nature-based facilities to get people back to Gippsland.