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Ryan calls for $200m fund to kickstart regional tourism in Heathcote

14 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.

“Last year, tourism was worth $880 million and 9,400 jobs to Victoria’s Goldfields region, which includes Heathcote.

“Restaurants, cafes, wineries, accommodation providers and retailers in Heathcote have been hit hard by the travel restrictions implemented because of coronavirus.”

Ms Ryan said the Victorian Government should provide targeted support to bring visitors back to Heathcote region.

“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.

“Major events which have been cancelled or postponed like Heathcote on Show and the O’Keefe Challenge bring an influx of people to our region each year who help drive retail trade by buying local goods, visiting cafes and restaurants and staying overnight.

“Hours upon hours of planning go into organising these events each year, often by volunteer committees supported by 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. The government needs to make sure these events are supported so they come back bigger and better than ever.

“A $200 million fund dedicated to regional tourism would give local businesses, wineries and tourism operators an opportunity to get together and put up the best ideas to 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: Owners of Mount Camel winery Vinea Marson, Mario and Helen Marson with Member for Euroa Steph Ryan.

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