Local accommodation should apply for support

A LOCAL tourism body is urging accommodation providers to take advantage of offered support, after the school holidays proved an anti-climax.

According to Destination Gippsland, Melbourne’s retraction back into stage three restrictions turned a promising July school holidays for Gippsland’s tourism industry into another frustrating and challenging trading period, with strong visitation in the first week subsequently falling quiet.

In response, the state government announced its Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program, aimed at supporting accommodation businesses experiencing cancellations.

Destination Gippsland chief executive Terry Robinson welcomed the initiative, and encouraged all eligible Gippsland businesses to register their interest and apply.

“Destination Gippsland has paused our marketing campaign that was to target the Melbourne audience and instead will focus on motivating Gippslanders to travel within Gippsland,” he said.

“We will also be working on attracting regional Victorians to travel to Gippsland as part of a bigger Visit Victoria campaign.

“Balancing the health and safety of our communities while trying to stimulate the visitor economy is our challenge and we continue to work with our stakeholders to do this as effectively and responsibly as possible.”

Under the Regional Accommodation Tourism Support Program, tourism accommodation businesses may receive financial relief after having to refund guests for required cancellations from affected postcodes in Victoria, as well as for cancellations as a result of interstate border closures.

Payments will be made to tourism accommodation businesses of up to $225 per night per ‘publicly available and bookable’ accommodation offering that was cancelled and not re-booked.

These bookings needed to have been made before lockdowns and border closures were announced, and cancelled after these announcements.

The program will close on Wednesday, August 19.

All affected Gippsland tourism accommodation businesses are encouraged to submit applications now via www.business.vic.gov.au.

People who normally live in the Melbourne metropolitan area or Mitchell Shire but are on holidays elsewhere, may continue that holiday.

However, people who live in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must not extend their holidays beyond their original booking.

Tourism operators are required to make reasonable endeavours to confirm that their principal place of residence is not in a restricted area before providing service to the member of the public.

If the business operator learns that a person is from a restricted area, they must refuse service.

Some examples of businesses taking reasonable endeavours include asking customers to confirm their principal place of residence is not in a restricted area include ticking a box on the form where contact details are collected, displaying signs to reinforce that service is only available for patrons not from non-restricted areas and asking individuals to confirm that their place of residence was not in a restricted area at the time of booking.

Retail stores and shopping centres are not required to refuse entry or service to patrons who are from restricted areas, however, accommodation providers, attractions and restaurants and cafés are subject to this requirement.