It took Victorians just three minutes to book out 50,000 regional travel vouchers that went online this morning.
- Vouchers were snapped up within minutes, offering a $200 discount on regional travel
- Tourism businesses outside Melbourne have been busy since the city’s lockdowns lifted
- Industry leaders have concerns about long-term prospects
With regional tourism operators already expecting a bumper Easter season, the latest allocation of $200 vouchers is set to provide another shot in the arm for the recovering industry.
The latest State Government vouchers are redeemable between April 6 and May 31, a period that includes the school holiday break.
Travellers will be required to spend a minimum of two nights and spend at least $400 on accommodation, tours or attractions in regional Victoria, the Yarra or Dandenong Ranges, or the Mornington Peninsula.
Similar vouchers released in December and January were also quickly sold out.
Acting Premier James Merlino today discouraged Victorians from travelling to high-risk coronavirus locations in Queensland and NSW.
A slew of cancellations would make it even harder to book last-minute holidays in regional Victoria, Chris Porter from the Victorian Tourism Industry Council said.
“The Easter long weekend — it’s traditionally a really busy time anyway,” he said.
“I would encourage anyone who was going to Brisbane to look at spending some time and doing a staycation in Melbourne.”
Despite the return of office workers to the CBD, office occupancy rates and the number of pedestrians are still well down on pre-pandemic levels.
‘We’re blown away by the support’
In East Gippsland, Mingling Waters caravan park manager Kristen Huggins is looking forward to a bumper turnout during the Easter long weekend.
After bushfires and Melbourne’s COVID outbreaks, Ms Huggins’ park in Nowa Nowa sat mostly empty last year.
“We’ve noticed this year a huge increase in people coming to stay,” she said.
“It’s great to have everyone coming back. We’re blown away by the support.”
Mr Porter said regional tourism was booming but he expected operators would face challenges in the months ahead.
In February, 56 per cent of respondents to a tourism council survey said they were using JobKeeper payments and 13 per cent said they feared having to close when the payments ceased.
Mr Porter was also disappointed that Avalon Airport was the only Victorian destination included in a $1.2 billion federal government program offering discounted tickets.
“We would have really liked to have seen Mildura, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, and more importantly Melbourne,” he said.
“We want people flying into Melbourne and spending time in our capital city to help it rebound as well.”