$50 tourism vouchers too little too late says Harris

Shadow Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism and Member for Wyong, David Harris

A $530M State Government support package announced on October 20 to revive the events and tourism industry has been applauded by Business NSW Central Coast, but Shadow Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism and Member for Wyong, David Harris, says a $50 voucher scheme which forms part of the package will be offered too late to help Coast businesses recover.

Major elements of the package include: $250M for an expanded Stay & Rediscover scheme providing a $50 voucher to all NSW adults; $150M to support the recovery of major event activity across the state including $50M for a Regional Events Package; $50M for a CBDs Revitalisation Program to support events and activations; an Event Saver Fund to provide immediate support to organisers if events are cancelled or disrupted by any public health orders during the 2021-22 summer; and a $25M Festival Relaunch package.

“Business NSW has been telling Government since the start of the pandemic that different industries were being impacted in different ways, but the tourism, hospitality and events sector has been the hardest hit,” said Business NSW Regional Director, Paula Martin.

“What is particularly pleasing is this is not a Sydney-centric package but recognises that all of NSW has a part to play in the economic recovery through regional events and tourism, with support for satellite CBDs a cornerstone of this funding.

“Central Coast business in this sector will be delighted with the Event Saver Fund which allows for immediate financial support for organisers of events that are disrupted or cancelled due to a Public Health Order this summer.

“This will allow confidence in investment and employment without a fear of being left footing a huge bill.

“The exciting part about this support package is that it will actually encourage more business investment and drive a collaborative partnership between business and Government in securing events and once again making NSW the number one destination in the Asia Pacific region for both business and travel.

“What is crucial is the targeted approach the Government takes from here in deciding where the money is spent – this needs to be on a needs-based approach to ensure maximum return on investment.

“A united approach using insight from stakeholders on the ground will be crucial to ensuring this package delivers for all of NSW.”

NSW Labor said the $50 voucher scheme, not set to be delivered until March next year, would be offered too late for tourism operators to recover, after being decimated over the last four months due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.

“The tourism industry in NSW, particularly in regional areas, has been hit extremely hard,” Shadow Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism and Member for Wyong, David Harris, said.

“These are family businesses who rely on people visiting to put food on the table and pay the bills.

“A $50 voucher in six months’ time isn’t exactly the stimulus tourism operators and accommodation providers were expecting.

“Tourism operators can’t afford to wait until next year for relief.

“The Government should have had these vouchers ready to go by November 1 when regional travel resumes and well ahead of the Christmas/New Year holiday period when families will be able to travel.”

Harris said $50 vouchers fall short of the amount given in other states.

“For example, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory offered vouchers of up to $200,” he said.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said providing the vouchers in March would prolong the bumper summer season.

“The vouchers can be spent on accommodation anywhere in NSW and given our proximity to Sydney, this means that many thousands of people will choose our region as their destination of choice,” he said.

“We have some of NSW’s best beaches and tourism attractions here on the Central Coast, and I am looking forward to seeing our local businesses come back with a bang.

“The Dine & Discover vouchers have already injected over $5M into the Central Coast economy, which just goes to show the impact that NSW Government-funded stimulus is having.”

Terry Collins