‘Govt action will help remove barriers to Vic tourism recovery’

Government intervention to help address labour shortages and build resilience will help struggling Victorian tourism destinations, a new report says.

The Black Summer Bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic wiped $19.5 billion in visitor spending from the Victoria economy, the report found, with two-thirds of tourism operators losing between 75-100 percent of their income.

Lead researcher Dr Joanne Pyke, who is director of the School for the Visitor Economy at Victoria University, said the majority of those hit by the double crises were struggling.

“The industry is depleted emotionally, financially, and physically,” she said.

“At the same time, they need to quickly rebuild their businesses, often without the finances, support and workforce that they need to do so.”

Dr Pyke said governments needed to implement targeted strategies to support industry in recovery,

The Building the Resilience of Tourism Destinations to Disasters report highlights the need for state and federal government policy interventions to:

  • help address the seasonal labour shortage and barriers to attracting more workers, such as the high cost of  accommodation in tourist locations;
  • ensure businesses can access affordable insurance to allow them to rebuild after bushfires, flood, drought, and other natural disasters;
  • transition to a low-carbon economy to attempt to reduce the frequency and severity of natural disasters;
  • provide appropriate mental health services in regional communities that meet the needs of a business community and remove barriers to access;
  • encourage businesses to take up accredited training in risk management, leadership, contingency, and continuity planning;
  • support operators to innovate and develop skills in online business and marketing to allow more businesses to continue operating during a crisis; and
  • engage cross-border communities to ensure workable solutions if future lockdowns are needed.

The report was based on a survey of 323 Victorian tourism operators.