After a triple whammy of drought, fires and Coronavirus, East Gippsland should be at the forefront of a domestic tourism campaign as part of the state’s recovery after COVID-19.
The is the view of Nationals Gippsland East, MP, Tim Bull, who says the State Government must make this region its top priority for stimulus measures to assist business and rebuild public infrastructure.
A recent SGS Economics report on the downturn caused by the combined impact of the bushfires and COVID-19 on the East Gippsland economy, estimates a GDP decline of over 22 per cent – three times the national rate, and it could be years before it recovers to the 2018-19 level.
Mr Bull said The Nationals are calling for a dedicated $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to be immediately established by the Andrews Labor Government to support country communities and bring visitors back to regional areas like Gippsland, when allowed.
“We have endured years of drought, devastating bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic,” said Mr Bull.
“Travel bans put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 meant visitation to country Victoria was smashed overnight.”
Mr Bull explained the aim of the fund would be to return the tourism sector to June 2019 bed night accommodation levels by June 2021.
“The fund would provide targeted support to tourism in different regions to assist operators to get back on their feet, while also promoting Victorian tourism destinations and upgrading tourism related infrastructure.
“On top of this promotion, there are also a number of infrastructure projects that should be supported that include the Bullock Island redevelopment, a new footbridge playground, Squatters’ Row upgrade in Paynesville; Rail Trail upgrades in the east around Orbost; Cape Conran boat ramp upgrade and a host of projects further east.
“Tens-of-thousands of regional Victorians who rely on their jobs in the tourism sector to pay the bills and put food on the table are counting on the Andrews Government to get them back to work and back in business.”
Caption: Local State and Federal MPs Tim Bull and Darren Chester, support East Gippsland being at the centre of a domestic tourism led post Covid recovery and suggest an upgrade to Cape Conran boat ramp should be part of that process.