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Regional Australia needs targeted support for tourism businesses

Regional Australia needs targeted support for tourism businesses
January 22, 2021

Australian Regional Tourism (ART) is calling for targeted support for regional tourism businesses to not only bolster recovery now, but action to drive a stronger, more resilient industry for the future.

With the Coronavirus pandemic having the tourism industry hard, and with regional areas far from immune to the challenges being faced, the body highlights that “JobKeeper payments have been a lifeline to so many businesses”.

However,  with the program set to conclude at the end of March, ART fears tough times are ahead for operators in some regional destinations, noting that “the fears and challenges being faced are further exacerbated by domestic border closures and endless snap announcements from State and Territory Governments.

The Art states that “while JobKeeper has been the saviour for so many it has been far from a perfect solution, instead causing a range of other challenges, including ability to access and keep skilled staff.

“Frustrations are now brewing around the perception that tourism in regional Australia has recovered, when the overly optimistic sentiment could not be further from reality.”

ART Chair Coralie Bell said just this time last year, regional tourism businesses were in the depths of a bushfire crisis, devastation that was faced on the back of prolonged drought, and quickly followed by floods and then COVID-19.

Bell explained “positive signs are visible in some destinations, with businesses experiencing good trade over the recent summer weeks, but the goal of 'recovery' is far from achieved.

"There have been enough handouts, we want to see the industry come out of bushfires and COVID-19 stronger and ready to thrive - not just survive until the money stops.”

ART is advocating for governments to partner with industry to provide support that is linked to outcomes that strengthen the industry to not only survive, but to develop robust businesses ready to pull through future challenges.

The regional visitor economy needs urgent action to provide: 

• Reliable and useful tourism data to support sustainable planning and decision-making,
• Initiatives that support regional dispersal, we know visitors will travel 3-4 hours from major population centres and this ongoing challenge has only been amplified,
• Programs and initiatives to address skills shortages, and
• Industry development to build a stronger and more resilient communities.

Bell added "all levels of government need to work together to enable key infrastructure to support tourism growth into the future, from new parks to sporting precincts, better tourism road access and more global connectivity, the lists are already put together - let's get it done.

"The growth of sustainable businesses in regional Australia is not a new conversation, the needs of industry are as they've always been with the urgency skyrocketing, but this doesn't mean more public money handouts.".

Acting as a hub for collaboration, cooperation, ideas generation, knowledge sharing and networking, Australian Regional Tourism (ART) is the peak national body representing regional tourism practitioners.

On behalf of its members, ART advocates for sustainable regional development and amplifies key messages to government, other industries and industry sectors, researchers, educators and the public.

Image: The Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Credit: Tourism WA.

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8th December 2020 - GSCORE helps local tourism operators enhance their marketing skills

8th December 2020 - Tourism boost expected to follow reopening of Western Australian border to NSW and Victoria

4th December 2020 - Mary Valley Rattler attraction able to maintain operation with JobKeeper support

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24th August 2020 - Registrations open for the online 2020 Australian Regional Tourism Convention

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18th July 2020 - Thousands back ATIC petition for retention of JobKeeper allowance

19th June 2020 - Tourism and Transport Forum calls for extension of JobKeeper for another six months

1st June 2020 - Specialist support and open borders vital for survival of regional tourism

17th February 2020 - Research shows art experiences can revitalise regional tourism

18th October 2019 - Australian Regional Tourism Convention to address role in national tourism agenda

20th November 2018 - Australian Regional Tourism announces new Chair

21st September 2018 - Regional Tourism marketing boards unite on destination strategies

24th August 2018 - NSW sets ambitious regional tourism target

29th August 2016 - Australian Regional Tourism Network calls for Government to ‘get serious’ about tourism

26th August 2016 - Tasmanian Government backs rail trail projects to boost regional tourism

6th July 2016 - Regional tourism overhaul to unlock potential of NSW visitor economy

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