Supporting Tourism in Ballarat – Ministerial Response
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Original constituency question from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament –
My question is directed to the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events and is about state government support to encourage tourists to visit and stay in Ballarat.
I wish to thank the minister for his support for Ballarat businesses that have had their livelihoods impacted by the COVID pandemic and the work that has been done to support the Ballarat economy during the COVID pandemic. The minister’s actions are most appreciated.
The Ballarat region is one of Victoria’s premier tourist destinations, with 3.36 million visitors travelling to the city in 2019, injecting $613 million into the local economy. This sector has been hit very hard by the cessation of international travel, the state border closures and the ring of steel.
With lower case numbers allowing us to reopen in a COVID-safe way, now is the time to support and promote Ballarat as a premium tourist destination. I want to see more visitor numbers back and our local economy stronger than ever.
Therefore my question is: what is the latest information on how the Victorian government is supporting Ballarat tourism and encouraging visitors to come to Ballarat?
Answer from the Hon Martin Pakula Wynne MP, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events (1st February 2021) –
The Victorian Government acknowledges that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated infection control measures have caused unprecedented challenges for the tourism industry, especially in regional communities.
On 18 November 2020, the Victorian Government announced the $465 million Victorian Tourism Recovery Package as part of the 2020-21 Victorian Budget to help the sector bounce back after a year of bushfire and necessary health restrictions to protect Victoria from coronavirus.
As part of this significant investment in tourism, the government has provided $6.7 million to establish a National Centre for Photography in Ballarat, which will attract visitors, support jobs and strengthen the city’s standing as a leading cultural hub. The centre will feature state-of-the-art gallery spaces for major temporary exhibitions, opportunities for community artists to exhibit and a dedicated photobook library.
The Package also includes $200 vouchers for holidaymakers to offset the cost of accommodation, attractions and tours in regional Victoria. To date, 110,000 vouchers have been issued, with the remaining 40,000 available from 30 March 2021. The initiative will drive visitation to the regions by incentivising Victorian residents to travel with regional Victoria, including to Ballarat.
The Victorian Government has been committed to supporting Victorian businesses through the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including those in regional communities such as Ballarat. The government has introduced various support packages, including three tranches of the Business Support Fund; various grants for hospitality businesses; and the Sole Trader Support Fund. The government previously provided targeted support for regional accommodation providers through the Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program, which benefited many providers in the Ballarat region.
The resumption of travel as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions have eased has provided a significant opportunity for the short term recovery of the Victorian visitor economy and is playing and important role in the recovery of many regional communities, such as those in the Ballarat region.
As Victoria continues to recover from coronavirus (COVID-19), the Victorian Government understands the necessity of undertaking targeted marketing and brand awareness to showcase Victoria’s tourism offerings to ensure the state is top of mind for potential visitors.
Visit Victoria has developed a number of new campaigns to encourage Victorians to experience some of the state’s best produce and places. The Stay Close, Go Further campaign is a state-wide campaign, which aims to highlight the creativity, culture and beauty of Victoria through its people and encourage Victorians to travel within Victoria. The Greater Ballarat region is featuring in this campaign through social media and digital platforms. Visit Victoria is also working with regional tourism boards across the state to help spread the message and encourage more Victorians to explore their own backyard.
In addition, the Victorian Government is supporting regional tourism providers through the Click for Vic campaign. Launched by the Premier in August, Click for Vic connects Victorians with local producers, creators and businesses across the state.