Visitors to the new Penguin Parade attraction donned face masks before the centre was closed on March 23.

THE Phillip Island Penguin Parade and the conservation work of Phillip Island Nature Parks has been thrown a lifeline by the State Government.

The organisation will share in a $14 million package for some of the state’s favourite wildlife attractions to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic and save nearly 800 jobs.

Zoos Victoria’s three sites – Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary together with Phillip Island Nature Parks will share in financial lifeline to ensure they can continue to operate and retain permanent staff until it‘s safe to open their doors again.

The boost was announced by Minister for Energy, the Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio today, Sunday, May 3.

“This support protects jobs and allows these incredible organisations to continue their crucial conservation work while their doors are closed.

“We all want to see these wonderful attractions re-open and this funding will ensure they can do just that on the other side of the pandemic.”

She said Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks are among Australia’s most popular tourist destinations and, together, contribute almost $800 million to the Victorian economy each year.

However, ongoing public health directions to help slow the spread of conronavirus have forced all four sites to remain closed to the public since March, resulting in substantial revenue loss.

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula underscored the importance of these facilities.

“These much-loved Victorian attractions are favourites of locals and tourists alike – this support will ensure they can continue to bring joy to millions of people each year once it is safe for them to reopen.”

The emergency support package will allow these popular tourist destinations to continue their operations at a modified capacity and keep 785 staff employed. It will also allow both organisations to continue their crucial conservation work with threatened flora and fauna, marine wildlife rescue and ongoing rehabilitation for native species impacted by the recent bushfires.

The support package includes $5.5 million for Zoos Victoria and $8.8 million for Phillip Island Nature Parks, which is more dependent on international visitors. Just under 2.7 million visitors came through the gates of Zoos Victoria’s three zoos last year exceeding all previous records.

Each year Phillip Island Nature Parks attract more than 1.1 million visitors from around the world to its 1800 hectares of land dedicated to conservation. This includes the world-class Phillip Island Penguin Parade visitor centre, which alone attracts more than 700,000 tourists each year.

The Government will also provide support for Victoria’s Alpine Resorts while considerations about the upcoming ski-season are being assessed.

Destination Gippsland welcomes support package

Destination Phillip Island Regional Tourism Board welcomes the State Government announcement of a support package for the Phillip Island Nature Parks during the COVID-19 crisis.

The package announced on Sunday, May 3 will allow the organization to get on with their important work, maintain permanent jobs and to plan for readjustment in delivering visitor experiences when visitation can recommence.

Our largest employer on Phillip Island, a not for profit organisation, does not receive reoccurring Government funding so is dependent on visitor spend (international and domestic) at its attractions to maintain its work in research, conservation and tourism.

Maintaining permanent jobs in the region is crucial as many employees’ households and families reside in the Bass Coast Shire, this then supports spend in the local economy.

The Phillip Island region is recognised as the most dependent tourism region in Victoria and more than one third of the local gross regional product is generated by the visitor economy. The Phillip Island Nature Parks attracts significant spend from the International market which also contributes to spend in our accommodation and hospitality venues as well as supporting experiences.

“We face a long reactivation of this sector in our region and across Australia. Destination Phillip Island will be working with the industry and community to drive experience development and outcomes which can support the new visitor landscape. We look forward to further support for Regional Tourism recovery from both the State and Federal Governments,” said Kim Storey, General Manager, Destination Phillip Island Regional Tourism Board.