DESTINATION Gippsland supports the government directives in place regarding non-essential travel to limit the spread of COVID-19.

But ahead of what should have been a massive exodus from the city into regional area, the tourism authority has come up with a way to ensure local producers enjoy an alternate boost.

Terry Robinson, Chief Executive Officer said this week that as a region we need to take collective responsibility in protecting our local communities from the virus and therefore strongly discourage non-essential travel to Gippsland.

“Accommodation businesses can still take bookings from people with legitimate reasons to travel (e.g. work or self-isolation) however in the case of holiday related travel, we advise our industry partners to closely review their forward bookings and negotiate with their clients to travel at a later date.

“We acknowledge this is a difficult business environment and that turning away Easter related holiday bookings is a tough decision however it is the right thing to do for our local communities and health system under these exceptional circumstances,” he said.

Destination Gippsland has been very active during the COVID19 crisis particularly providing support and information to the thousands of tourism businesses that are being affected.

“There is a lot of information and almost daily announcements about government assistance and programs available.

“We are trying to simplify this information and provide as much urgent support to the Gippsland tourism industry as possible.”

Long-term strategy

“In addition to helping our local tourism businesses navigate the immediate challenges we are also working on the long-term recovery for the region,” he said.

“We are preparing ‘Reactivate’ marketing campaigns, negotiating with event organisers to bring new events to Gippsland in 2021, advocating to government about the financial and policy needs for our industry, developing new training programs and fast-tracking as many of the Destination Management Plan recommendations as possible.

“This is unprecedented times for our industry, and we are working hard to help our region navigate this extremely difficult situation together”, Mr Robinson said.

While Destination Gippsland has stopped promoting travel to the region, we are encouraging potential visitors to dream and plan of future trips when the threat of the virus has gone. Until it is safe to travel our focus is to promote all the wonderful Gippsland produce including wine, beer, cider and spirits that can be purchased online.

“We have secured a Melbourne freeway billboard and featured local winemakers with the message ‘Gippsland’s finest wines delivered to your door’ and directing people to where they will find an extensive list of Gippsland wineries.

“This is a positive way to help our wineries and other small business producers during this most difficult time”, he said.