Victoria’s tourism industry generated $29.4 billion in Gross State Product and 263,000 jobs in 2018-19, equating to 6.5 per cent of our economy and 7.8 per cent of employment. Our once buoyant visitor economy has been starved of international, interstate and intrastate visitation as a result of our COVID-19 restrictions, bushfires and drought but we now have an opportunity to retrain, reboot and rebuild.
The Victorian Chamber’s priorities for the 2020-21 State Budget contained a raft of recommendations for this industry and it is fantastic to see that Government took these on board. We recommended a significant increase in capital funding to build new assets and experiences and replace bushfire-damaged infrastructure in line with the Regional Tourism Review. And it is fantastic to see funding provided for this under Regional Tourism Infrastructure. Similarly, we advocated for a Tourism Investment Fund and it is exciting to see substantial funding set aside. We look forward to working with the Government and our members on how this fund can best be utilised.
The Chamber’s recommendations also included advanced marketing solutions and investment in broader Visit Victoria campaigns across intrastate, interstate and international markets to provide further opportunities for our tourism sector to recover and thrive.
Finally, The Business Events Program was also on our wish list and we are delighted with that announcement of funding to attract a strong pipeline of visitors to Melbourne and the regions to support our visitor economy.
To be attributed to Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra:
“Investment in the visitor economy equals investment in local businesses, local jobs, local assets and our heritage. We must leverage our competitive advantages over other destinations now to maximise the sector’s future prosperity.
“The Victorian Chamber’s Budget Submission included many of the initiatives announced today including the major investments in tourism infrastructure, targeted marketing campaigns and the Business Events Program. It gets a big tick from us.
“We are looking forward to working with the State Government on the strategic planning and roll out of the Tourism Investment Fund to be guided by the Regional Tourism Review which will help to leverage major private investment in our visitor economy and put Victoria back on the map.
“Our members in the sector tell us that the phones have been ringing off the hook in recent weeks as restrictions have eased. But the pent-up post COVID-19 demand won’t last forever and our visitor economy needs support to invest in great experiences and attractions as well as demand-generation.
“Now is our time to strike. We must connect the tourism demand with our cash-starved businesses in the tourism sector and today’s announcement is a great start.”