Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Coronavirus wiped $19.5 billion in visitor spending from the Victorian economy in 2020

Coronavirus wiped $19.5 billion in visitor spending from the Victorian economy in 2020
June 10, 2021

A new report from Victoria University and the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) has highlighted the ongoing challenges facing the Victorian tourism industry - impacted in the last 18 months by bushfires, Coronavirus lockdowns and rising insurance costs.

Released last month, the Building the Resilience of Tourism Destinations to Disasters report shows the industry facing a challenging future, with $19.5 billion in visitor spending wiped from the Victorian economy in 2020.

Of the 323 Victorian tourism operators surveyed:

  • Two-thirds lost between 75% and 100% of their income
  • Business insurance has risen by up to 400% in bushfire-affected areas, making it unaffordable for many
  • Almost half of owners were struggling with their mental health, and had limited access to or were reluctant to seek help from health services
  • Almost half of casual staff were permanently made redundant, with many finding more secure employment, exacerbating the seasonal skills shortage in the regional tourism sector as it tries to recover
  • Only 30% feel confident of recruiting an adequately skilled workforce in the next 12 months
  • 15% were directly affected by the bushfires. However, two-thirds say their income was affected and 89% were receiving Government support.

Lead researcher Dr Joanne Pyke, Director of the School for the Visitor Economy at Victoria University, said many of those hit by the double crises were struggling, advising “the industry is depleted emotionally, financially and physically.

“At the same time, they need to quickly rebuild their businesses, often without the finances, support and workforce that they need to do so.”

Advising that Victoria must lead the way in implementing strategies to address current vulnerabilities in the tourism system and increase resilience to future crises, VTIC Chief Executive, Felicia Mariani stated “our sector is not just scrambling to recover from the double crises of the past year; we’re also looking to build resilience and plan for a next inevitable crisis.

“The sector had already been facing a challenge in attracting enough skilled seasonal workers and COVID has amplified that problem by cutting off our overseas supply of backpackers, students and other workers. This shortage of staff resource is definitely hampering the sector’s ability and pace to recover.”

Explaining that governments needed to implement targeted strategies to support industry in recovery, as many measures had not been helpful in the Victorian context, Dr Pyke went on to say “funding cheap airfares to take tourists to other states has had a negative impact on tourism recovery in Victoria, which relies heavily on people travelling within the state to fill the overseas tourist shortfall.

“But possibly one of the most significant issues is the dramatic increase in business insurance cost in bushfire areas. Businesses can’t plan for the next crisis or build resilience if they are not assured of the ability to be able fund their recovery after a disaster.”

The report did show that those who had accessed training in risk management, leadership, contingency and continuity planning as part of VTIC’s accreditation process, were fairing much better and were more likely to feel prepared for the next crisis. Those who had experienced previous disasters, such as bushfires, were also more likely to have risk management plans in place and be in a better position to recover.

It also highlighted the need for state and federal Government policy interventions to:

  • Help address the seasonal labour shortage and barriers to attracting more workers, such as the high cost of accommodation in tourist locations
  • Ensure businesses can access affordable insurance to allow them to rebuild after bushfires, flood, drought and other natural disasters
  • Transition to a low-carbon economy to attempt to reduce the frequency and severity of natural disasters
  • Provide appropriate mental health services in regional communities that meet the needs of a business community and remove barriers to access
  • Encourage businesses to take up accredited training in risk management, leadership, contingency and continuity planning
  • Support operators to innovate and develop skills in online business and marketing to allow more businesses to continue operating during a crisis
  • Engage cross-border communities to ensure workable solutions if future lockdowns are needed.

The research revealed many stories of both innovation and resilience as well as the impacts of the crises.

Images: Escape Villas at Hepburn Springs (top) and Pizzini Wines - which ramped up its online marketing during the COVID crisis (below).

Related Articles

9th June 2021 - Adventure Tourism Victoria denounces partial lifting of lockdown

8th June 2021 - WTTC campaign launched as global call for governments to restart international travel

8th June 2021 - Victoria’s Chief Health Officer warns of no large crowds when Melbourne lockdown ends

7th June 2021 - Victorian Government announces $32 million support package for lockdown impacted tourism businesses

21st April 2021 - Victorian Government releases $633 million ‘roadmap’ funding to boost tourism and major events

4th June 2021 - Return of international tours vital for Australia’s entertainment venues and promoters

26th February 2021 - Victoria University study shows inappropriate uniforms impact desire of girls and young women to participate in sport

22nd April 2018 - Victoria University Summit will build momentum on UN Sustainable Development Goals

27th May 2021 - Victoria Government announces seven-day lockdown

21st May 2021 - Save Victorian Events founder slams Victorian Government’s lack of support for business event sector

30th April 2021 - Victoria’s Enchanted Adventure Park advises of record summer

14th April 2021 - Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into tourism and events support hears plea to save ‘industry in crisis’

9th April 2021 - Tourism Conference to explore reigniting Victoria’s visitor economy

8th April 2021 - Parks Victoria advise that time is ‘running out’ to save the Alpine National Park

17th February 2021 - VTIC fear loss of jobs in Victoria tourism and events without further support

2nd August 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council advises dedicated program of support required to survive latest lockdown

11th July 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council welcomes business support package for ‘battered’ tourism industry 

7th July 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council concerned over re-imposed Melbourne lockdown

15th June 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council welcomes easing of restrictions but highlights challenges of the four square metre rule

10th June 2020 - Victoria Tourism Industry Council welcomes Sovereign Hill’s reopening announcement

13th May 2020 - VTIC highlights need for coordinated response to COVID-19 recovery

27th April 2020 - VTIC welcomes new emergency funding for tourism industry        

3rd May 2021 - Moving to address industry insurance crisis AALARA releases survey on Discretionary Mutual Fund

12th April 2021 - Failure to secure insurance see Australia’s last circus with exotic animals move to retire its lions and monkeys

2nd April 2021 - Save Victorian Events highlight Bluesfest cancellation as confirmation of need for Governments to back event cancellation insurance

29th December 2020 - Ombudsman’s report calls for action in addressing ‘national crisis’ in insurance coverage

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Hadley/Series Australia Pty Ltd

Hadley Australia and Series Australia Pty Ltd are the leading quality theatre chair manufacturers in the southern hemisphere. The businesses work closely with architects, interior designers and…

read more

Arts / Culture / Design / Entertainment / Venues



Digonex is a leading provider of customised dynamic pricing solutions to clients in arts and entertainment, sport, attractions, cultural institutions and retail sectors. Digonex’s technology is…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing


Pico Play

Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment that deliver extraordinary and memorable experiences to millions…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Design / Recreation / Tourism


Felton Industries

Felton Industries is Australia’s leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of quality outdoor furniture and has been supplying premium seating solutions for all sporting, commercial, community…

read more

Parks / Play / Recreation / Sport / Venues


Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976, and has since grown into a leading company in the waterparks industry. Today Polin is one of the world leaders in the design, production, and installation of…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Waterparks


The Pool Enclosure Company

Now TPEC Pool Enclosures - see

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues


Hydrocare Pool Services

Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd offer 30 years of experience in aquatic industry features, products and water treatment. Hydrocare Pools has undertaken water treatment for aquatic centres and…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Technology



Swimplex Aquatics are a world-class company dedicated to the commercial pool, waterslide industry. We are Australian market leaders servicing all states Australia wide. Swimplex provide a full…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Design / Play / Waterparks


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business