Ryan calls for $200m fund to kickstart regional tourism in Benalla
13 May 2020
Euroa MP and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan is calling on the Andrews Government to establish a $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to bring visitors back to country communities.
Ms Ryan said the government should aim to lift bed night accommodation back to June 2019 levels, once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
“Tourism is the backbone of a lot of our retail trade. It accounts for 22.4 per cent of gross regional product of Victoria’s high country region and is worth more than $900 a year to north-east Victoria.
“Retailers in Benalla have been hit by an unimaginable double whammy. The bushfires over the summer period saw a huge drop in tourism to the north-east, and now they are struggling with the unprecedented impact of coronavirus.”
Ms Ryan said the Victorian Government should provide targeted support to bring visitors back to Benalla and the north east.
“A dedicated tourism fund would help operators get back on their feet, promote our region as a destination of choice and upgrade tourism related infrastructure,” Ms Ryan said.
“Events on our calendar like the Wall to Wall Festival, the Benalla Shorts Film Festival and race days at Winton Motor Raceway bring thousands of people to the region each year and help drive visitation and bed night.
“Hours upon hours of planning go into organising these events each year, usually by volunteer committees and the generous sponsorship of local businesses.
“It’s going to be incredibly difficult for business to sponsor these events in the same way after sustaining the losses they have from the brutal restrictions we have faced, which means those events also need support to make sure they come back bigger and better than ever.
“A $200 million fund dedicated to regional tourism would give Benalla businesses and tourism operators an opportunity to get together and put up the best ideas that will help get people back to the region.”
Ms Ryan said the Andrews Government spent more than $100 million on self-promotional advertising, such as its multi-million dollar ‘Big Build campaign’.
“A $200 million Regional Tourism Fund is not a big ask, given the Andrews Government has just borrowed an eyewatering $24.5 billion to respond to the coronavirus and is spending $100 million on self-promotional advertising which could be redirected into promoting regional tourism.”
Photo: Euroa MP Steph Ryan met with Wall to Wall’s Roxanne DeMasson and Benalla Business Network’s Lindsay Thomas to discuss the need for more support to kickstart regional events and tourism as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.