Tourism cash call to offset COVID impact

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell will push for a dedicated round of Great State tourism vouchers for Limestone Coast businesses and tourism operators, following the lifting of targeted restrictions.

The Independent MP this week will call on the State Government during parliament to utilise the successful tourism scheme to compensate local businesses who were affected by the restrictions.

“Those who had bookings cancelled and lost business deserve compensation and what better way to do this than to offer a round of Great State vouchers, targeted specifically to our region,” Mr Bell said.

“The vouchers are a good incentive to visit a town you may not have visited before and dollars saved in accommodation and experiences can be spent elsewhere, with a flow-on benefit for other businesses, so the whole region benefits.

“We have so many unique experiences here and it’s time to welcome those visitors back and show them a great time in the Limestone Coast.”

Mr Bell said he had spoken with multiple operators about the impact on the hospitality, tourism and events sector during the five days of restrictions in the Mount Gambier, Grant and Wattle Range local government areas.

“Unfortunately, the restrictions fell at a time when our town was supposed to be at full capacity, with school holidays, major tourism and sporting events and community shows scheduled,” he said.

“I heard many personal stories about bookings and events being cancelled, empty dining rooms and the tremendous financial and emotional impact this has on owners and staff, who are already reeling from 18 months of continued restrictions.”

However, Mr Bell said the vouchers should be a supplement to, not a replacement for State Government financial support packages.

“I encourage every business affected by the restrictions to take advantage of the State Government’s financial support packages, which I strongly advocated for last week,” he said.

Mr Bell said another initiative that would go a long way towards helping Limestone Coast businesses was the $700,000 of State Government funding dedicated towards an Adelaide CBD promotion dubbed ‘FOMO Fridays’.

“$700,000 for a month of street parties is a fair chunk of money for just a small part of South Australia,” he said.

“I’m sure the Limestone Coast would appreciate a State Government funded street party to revitalise business opportunities too.”

Mr Bell said many operators had been taken by surprise by the announcement, which was made on a public holiday Monday afternoon on social media and came into effect immediately.

“The Premier’s Facebook page is not where people want to find out information about how their business and livelihood will be affected,” he said.

“Communication is key to combating misinformation.”

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