By Luke Voogt
Geelong’s tourism board has labelled a second round of regional travel vouchers as the “most important” for the local sector’s COVID-19 recovery.
State government on Wednesday announced the release of another 40,000 $200 vouchers, redeemable from January 27 to April 1.
Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine executive director Brett Ince said the latest round would help make up for a shortfall of events due to COVID-related cancellations.
“We’re a region that is very much built on events,” Mr Ince said.
The cancellation or postponement of major events such as the Pako Festa street parade or Avalon Airshow would reduce local tourism revenue, Mr Ince said.
But the vouchers would encourage visitors to spend longer in the region to enjoy other attractions such as wineries, galleries and amusement parks instead, he said.
“We are hopeful that it will entice Melburnians to come out to our region and experience something that they never have.
“Round two and round three are really important for Geelong and the Bellarine to drive that extra night for short-stay visitation.”
The vouchers will help the local sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula $280 million in tourism revenue in its first three months alone.
The Surf Coast was one of the most popular destinations for those who redeemed a voucher in the first round of the program, according to preliminary data.
Mr Ince acknowledged the first 70,000 vouchers, along with the dismantling of the ‘ring of steel’ around Melbourne, boosted summer tourism in the region.
“But many of the visitors during the summer peak were coming anyway, [including] holiday home owners or annual holiday-makers,” he said.
Mr Ince said this round of vouchers would encourage Melburnians to visit well into the “shoulder season”.
Most people claiming vouchers spent about $1000 on accommodation, tours or attractions on their trip, in addition to petrol, food and supplies, according to state government.
Travellers must spend a minimum $400 on accommodation in regional Victoria and stay at least two nights to qualify for the vouchers.