Domestic tourism to Phillip Island is set to get a boost in a package announced by the Commonwealth Government today.

AUSTRALIANS are being urged to take a home-grown holiday.

And Phillip Island’s iconic international tourism drawcards have been named in a major #COVID-19 recovery support package announced by the Commonwealth Government today, Sunday, September 27, to get the sector pumping again.

Alongside Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef, Phillip Island’s famed Penguin Parade and other international attractions including Australian Motorcycle GP, nature parks and surfing beaches have singled the Island out for a $3.5 million slice of the recovery pie.

Funding allocated for each region is based on the gross value added by international visitors and tourism employment within the region. The Phillip Island Region may receive up to $3.5 million from the Australian Government under this program.

For the year ending December 2019, the Phillip Island tourism region received a total of 1.1 million overnight visitors, 57,000 of which were international. These international visitors stayed just over 149,000 nights in the region, and spent around $26 million.

Tourism Research Australia data from the Regional Tourism Satellite Accounts shows in 2018-19:
– 4,500 people were directly employed in tourism.
– Tourism indirect employment accounted for an additional 1,400 people.
– Tourism’s total gross value added for the region in the same period was $476 million.

A key aspect of the package is to encourage domestic tourism to boost and retain local jobs.

The Morrison-McCormack Government will inject $250 million into regional Australia, encouraging more Australians to travel and experience a home-grown holiday, boosting regional jobs and local economies.

The package includes two measures announced today, a $50 million Regional Tourism Recovery initiative to assist businesses in regions heavily reliant on international tourism and $200 million for an additional round of the Building Better Regions Fund.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the package would deliver targeted support for regional tourism.

“By investing $200 million in an additional round of the Building Better Regions Fund we are investing $200 million in securing regional Australia’s future,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“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.

“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.”

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said tourism regions had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and this would help them to bounce back firstly by attracting more Australians and then overseas visitors when our international borders re-open.

“Tourism is such an important job creator and driver of many regional economies. We want to make sure that our tourism regions are in the best possible shape on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Birmingham said.

“This targeted new fund will support internationally dependent tourism regions to adapt their offerings, experiences and marketing to appeal to domestic visitors in the short-term and be in the strongest possible position to welcome back international tourists down the track.

“The Morrison-McCormack Government’s billions in economy-wide support has provided a lifeline to many in the tourism industry, sustaining hundreds of thousands of tourism businesses.

“Increasingly we are targeting sectors hardest hit, with this regional support sitting alongside our $50 million business events program to get meetings, conventions and conferences up and running again, which is so crucial to the visitor economies of our capital and larger cities.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism Jonno Duniam said regional tourism was the lifeblood of so many Australian towns and regional communities and this would help to get them back on their feet.

“Tourism will never be the same again, but there is opportunity in this challenge and the greatest opportunity is in our regions,” Assistant Minister Jonno Duniam said.

“Our $50 million package will help to realise this opportunity, it will assist in saving thousands of businesses and jobs in the first and worst hit regional tourism areas across the country.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino said BBRF Round 5 presents a great opportunity for regional communities to see the benefit of continued investment.

“BBRF has been such a successful program, with regional, rural and remote Australia reaping the rewards,” Assistant Minister Marino said.

“Local jobs, local procurement, local upgrades and local wins – that’s what BBRF means to communities across the country.”

BBRF Round 5 will be delivered like its previous four rounds, with Infrastructure Project and Community Investment streams. Grant Opportunity Guidelines will be made available shortly, consistent with the existing BBRF framework, to assist potential applicants.

The nine regions eligible for the Recovery for Region Tourism Fund and Federal Government allocations are:

  • Australia’s South West (Western Australia) – up to $1.25 million
  • Gold Coast (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
  • North Coast (New South Wales) – up to $1.25 million
  • Phillip Island region (Victoria) – up to $3.5 million
  • Tasmania – up to $13.5 million
  • Tropical North Queensland (Queensland) – up to $10 million
  • Whitsundays and Mackay region (Queensland) – up to $3.5 million

Phillip Island response

Destination Phillip Island Regional Tourism Board has warmly welcomed the support and the recognition of Phillip Island’s prominent position in Australia’s tourist scene.

“Destination Phillip Island strongly supports the Regional Tourism Recovery Package the Federal Government announced on Sunday, the support package from the Morrison-McCormack Government, which recognises the immense challenges confronting regional parts of Australia that rely heavily on tourism, particularly international tourism, to drive their local economies.

“The Phillip Island region has been drastically impacted by the loss of International visitation from as early as January this year, and the future for attracting return visitation from International markets is far off,” Kim Storey General Manager commented.

Ms Storey said the $200m in the Building Better Regions Fund, with $100m specifically dedicated to tourism infrastructure projects in regional areas will be very welcomed, and we hope a number of our key projects will be able to benefit from this package when details are announced and funding applications open.

The $50m in a Recovery of Regional Tourism Fund for nine areas of Australia highly dependent on International tourism has recognised Phillip Island’s key reliance on this part of the market and the reliance of the visitor economy in contributing to over 5900 local jobs and 43.9% direct/indirect economic input to the local economy.

“The program will help regions and businesses retain and create jobs by driving visitation, spurring demand and improving product diversity to attract domestic visitors. This will help these regions achieve greater leverage from the domestic market and to ensure there is a vibrant, internationally focused tourism industry still in place when international visitors return.

“Destination Phillip Island will work with the Commonwealth through Austrade managing the project, with local industry, State and Local Government to submit a plan which will deliver the key aims of the program to support the Phillip Island visitor economy rebuild, including marketing, product experience redevelopment and increasing domestic visitation. Detailed guidelines are to be issued in October.

“We will also be working on the advocacy of many of our local projects for the Infrastructure Fund which will support jobs and economic stimulus to the region,” Ms Storey said.

Summary: On 27 September 2020, the Australian Government announced a $50 million Recovery for Regional Tourism Fund to support nine tourism regions which are heavily reliant on international tourism. This initiative is part of the $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The Recovery of Regional Tourism program will help businesses and regions heavily reliant on international tourism to retain and create jobs by driving visitation, spurring demand and improving product diversity to attract visitors. This will help regions achieve greater leverage from the domestic tourism market and to ensure there is a vibrant, internationally focused tourism industry still in place when international visitors return.

Examples of potential activities that could be funded

Support to develop new marketing strategies and content

Some tourism businesses in internationally reliant regions need to change their business model to focus on the domestic market. For example, a tour operator specialising in tours for international markets could access support from a regional tourism organisation (RTO) funded under this proposal to develop new domestically-focussed marketing strategies.

Support to develop new tourism product

New and innovative tourism product such as events and festivals can encourage visitation. For example, funding could be provided to an RTO to support a signature food and wine festival.

New marketing partnerships with airlines

Tourism is highly reliant on aviation to bring visitors to destinations and incentives are needed to provide volume on air routes that are tourism- reliant. For example, funding could be used by a regional tourism organisation to enter into a joint marketing arrangement with a domestic airline to drive consumers to book flights to a region with limited regional air coverage.

Tourism business advisory services

Tourism businesses serving the international market have suffered large declines in revenue. Targeted tourism business advisory services would assist operators to restructure and pivot. For example, a cultural tourism operator which exclusively targets international visitors may need specialist advice/mentoring to lower their cost base and adapt their products to appeal to the domestic market.

Support to re-engage with the interstate travel trade

Border closures have meant that tourism businesses in remote and regional locations have not been able to access industry sales and distribution partners in the usual way to develop new domestic markets. For example, an RTO could engage experts to assist high-end service providers which traditionally market to destination management companies overseas to engage with state-based distributors and agents as state borders reopen.

Upgrades to Visitor Information Services

Visitor information services are designed to enrich and expand the experience of visitors and encourage longer stay. A RTO responsible for the Visitor Information Centre in its region could, for example, access support to develop new services targeted at the domestic market.