THE federal government is set to inject $250 million to boost tourism and infrastructure in Australia’s regions.
The October 6 budget will set aside $50 million for a regional tourism recovery initiative to assist businesses in regions heavily reliant on international tourism.
A further $200 million will be injected into the Building Better Regions Fund to boost infrastructure in regional communities, $100 million of which will be dedicated to tourism-related infrastructure.
“We know every dollar spent on building local communities is a dollar well spent and that is at the heart of our economic plan for a more secure and resilient Australia,” Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack said in a statement on Sunday.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said tourism regions had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This additional funding will help them to bounce back by firstly attracting more Australians and then overseas visitors when international borders reopen.
“Tourism is such an important job creator and driver of many regional economies,” Senator Birmingham said in the statement.
“We want to make sure that our tourism regions are in the best possible shape on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Business and tourism groups have welcomed the sector, saying it’s much need and will give hope to those who have been worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Hart, executive chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Tourism, said the package provides some hope for the regions worst affected.
“This fund will help address the great divide in tourism between the regions that have been able to capitalise on some intrastate visitation and those that have not,” he said in a statement.
The Australian Tourism Industry Council said the government’s initiative will help will help tackle the serious, lasting impact of the COVID recession.
He said the $50 million funding package for nine international reliant regions would genuinely support and more likely better sustain and future proof iconic tourism product.
The Australian Tourism Export Council, while welcoming the announcement, said it remains concerned by a lack of specific funding to support businesses which deliver international visitors to Australia.
“The package announced today will bring some desperately needed support to major, mostly internationally focused, tourism businesses across regional Australia,” its managing director Peter Shelley said.
“But support is still needed to ensure the inbound tour operators who supply international visitors to these areas survive.”