The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) welcomes results released today by Tourism Research Australia, indicating record numbers in international and national visitation to Victoria, for the year ending September 2019. While VTIC applauds the sector’s strong growth, ongoing support is needed to ensure the impacts on visitor numbers and spend due to the devastating bushfire disaster are minimised in 2020.
International overnight expenditure in Victoria broke records, reaching $8.8 billion (a growth of 6.0%), while domestic overnight expenditure reached $16.5 billion. Total visitors to and within Victoria reached 96.8 million, an average increase of 8.6% per annum.
Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said, “Once again the tourism sector has demonstrated its value as a major economic contributor, not only to the state, but also to Australia.
“While these numbers are positive, we cannot ignore that they will not be replicated in the current quarter.
“Victoria and many states across Australia are still suffering. The fires have been devastating for communities, individuals and businesses and have caused extensive damage and heartache.
“There has been significant damage to Victoria’s reputation as a travel destination, with operators across the state seeing a substantial downturn in visitation and forward bookings.
“We’ve had countless members in non-fire-affected areas telling us they’re impacted by cancelations and no bookings in what is meant to be their peak season.
“The perception is Victoria is closed for business and we need a cohesive industry approach to combat this myth.
“Because regional tourism intersects so many areas within the responsibility of government – industry and regional development, employment, small business, transport, infrastructure, the environment and education and training – it is crucial there is a whole of government response to ensure tourism operators are supported and Victoria is still on people’s ‘to-do lists.’
“VTIC will continue to advocate on behalf of the sector to ensure assistance is provided. We are getting out into the regions and talking to our members and industry to hear first-hand how they have been affected and what they need to rebuild and recover,” Ms Mariani said.
As part of VTIC’s response, in conjunction with the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the organisations have established a 12-month, $500,000 support package to assist Victorian businesses affected by the bushfires. All services under this package will be provided at no cost to any business in a Victorian natural disaster declared area.
“The role of policy makers is to support these efforts, helping our regions and their individual businesses to navigate the challenges that are emerging. We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve optimum results and rebuild Victoria’s reputation as a ‘must-see’ travel destination.”