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$250m regional tourism fund unveiled, but concerns remain

Package includes special funding for nine Aussie regions

The Federal Government has delivered a much-needed boost to the Aussie tourism industry, unveiling a $250 million package for tourism projects in regional Australia. 


The Regional Tourism Recovery Package comprises two measures, including a $50 million Recovery for Regional Tourism initiative to help businesses in nine areas that are highly reliant on international tourism, and a further $200 million for a new round of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF). 


Kangaroo Island, SA


The Recovery for Regional Tourism initiative has been designed to support local economies and jobs by stimulating domestic travel and broadening target markets. 


The nine regions eligible for the fund are:

-Tasmania – up to $13.5 million

-Gold Coast (Queensland) – up to $10 million

-Tropical North Queensland – up to $10 million

-Kangaroo Island (South Australia) – up to $3.5 million

-Lasseter and Alice Springs (Northern Territory) – up to $3.5 million

-Phillip Island region (Victoria) – up to $3.5 million

-Whitsundays and Mackay region (Queensland) – up to $3.5 million

-Australia’s South West (Western Australia) – up to $1.25 million

-North Coast (NSW) – up to $1.25 million


“This Budget will set aside $200 million for projects to boost local infrastructure in regional communities, $100 million of which will be dedicated to tourism-related infrastructure,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said. 


Australian Regional Tourism (ART) chair Coralie Bell said the new funding would “provide a much needed boost to regional operators and encourage the flow of visitors to regional destinations”. 


“Tourism infrastructure is critical to regional areas being more accessible, competitive and attractive, the additional round of the BBRF will deliver projects to support this,” Ms Bell remarked. 


Phillip Island, VIC


While welcoming the package announcement, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said it remained concerned “by a lack of specific funding to support the businesses which deliver international visitors to Australia”, like inbound tour operators (ITOs).


“Without ITOs many of these regional tourism businesses would have never had the level of international visitation that has helped them to build their product and if ITO businesses disappear, the long term viability of these regional tourism businesses is questionable too,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley stated.


The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) also drew attention to the importance of international tourism to these regions.


“From Tropical North Queensland, Victoria’s Phillip Island and WA’s South West with Margaret River, these regions all delivered to a once rising international market,” ATIC Executive Director Simon Westaway said.


“Yet international visitors have rapidly evaporated under a closed national border due to the public health response to COVID-19, ensuring depressed conditions to many regional economies.


“Last year Australia generated record international tourist visitation and spending through strong support of our regions. Sadly in 2020 the direct opposite has transpired due to the pandemic.”


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 28 September 2020

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