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As we start the new week, we’re buoyed by the report of just 11 new cases today with our rolling 14-day average for Metro Melbourne down to 34.4. This is such welcome news for so many in metropolitan Melbourne that have been under strict restrictions since early July and gives us hope that we can see an early end to the pain of lockdown.

Our colleagues in regional Victoria have enjoyed their first weekend of reopening and, by all accounts, for those that have been able to open, it’s been a tremendous boost and the mood in regional Victoria has been one of elation. I can promise you that your city cousins are extremely envious.

The reopening process, however, has created issues on many fronts with the Industry Restart Guidelines launched last Wednesday leaving many of our tourism operators confused, frustrated or simply unable to open. I spoke with so many of you last week following the release of the Guidelines and have communicated many of these issues through to government.

Several weeks back, following the launch of the Premier’s Roadmap to Reopening, I noted that VTIC would be forming a Reference Group to help inform the development of the associated Reopening Guidelines.  This process ran alongside sector roundtables being conducted by government that VTIC and other industry associations and operators were participating in at the same time, all intended to bring industry insights to the formation of the Guidelines over roughly a 2-week engagement process.

Last Tuesday, the Premier made the announcement that regional Victoria would open from 11.59pm on Wednesday 16 September. The consultation processes at that point ceased, given the need to have Reopening Guidelines delivered within 48 hours, ahead of operations resuming across regional areas.

As a consequence, the focus of the Reference Group needed to shift to responding to the details of the Guidelines, highlighting the areas of inconsistency and concern for industry, and providing recommendations on a smoother pathway to reopening. In particular, the plight of our events sector, the omission of indoor attractions from reopening, the limitations on our tour and transport sector and the inconsistency to the application of rules formed a focus of the paper.

The response document was submitted to government over the weekend with four key pillars of focus –

  1. THE NEED FOR CERTAINTY AND CLARITY
  2. TRUST IN THE INDUSTRY
  3. RECOGNISE THE UNIQUE AND URGENT NEEDS OF THE EVENT SECTOR
  4. ENABLE THE INDUSTRY TO SUCCEED

Tourism, events, hospitality/food services and accommodation are among some of the most heavily regulated industries and we operate every day to comply with these regulations. These Guidelines need to reflect the capability of industry in this regard and take into consideration the enormous efforts that have already been put into developing COVIDSafe plans to protect staff and customers.

VTIC will continue to engage with the relevant departments in seeking consideration and concessions on key issues impinging our ability to reactivate and set a steady course for recovery.  The current rate of achievement of the health measures signposted in the roadmap to reopening should signal the need to reconsider the timeline and associated restrictions at each step.

We’ve already had a reply to our submission from government this morning and will be working closely with the department in addressing concerns on your behalf.

COVID-19 Support Grants

Third Round of the Business Support Fund
The third round of grants under the Business Support Fund have now opened. Under this round of funding, businesses with payrolls of less than $650,000 are eligible for grants of $10,000; if your payroll is between $650,000 and $3 million, you’re eligible to apply for a grant of $15,000; and if your payroll is between $3 million and $10 million, you’re eligible for a $20,0000 grant.
Only employing businesses are eligible to apply for this funding. Applications can be submitted now, and the fund will close on 23 November or when exhausted.

This round of grant funding has also been restricted to specific sectors that continue to be affected by the impact of restrictions, of which tourism, events and hospitality would be eligible sectors.

Click here to view further information and to apply.

 

Please note: Businesses that may opt to receive a grant under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Support Program are not eligible to receive a grant from this program. Details for this program are outlined below.

If you are a sole trader and ineligible for funding under this program, you may be eligible for a $3,000 grant under the Business Resilience Support Program. Details provided below as well.

Sole trader support

The Victorian Government has allocated $100 million to a support program to provide grants of $3,000 to over 30,000 sole traders in the hardest hit sectors, such as retail, accommodation and food services.

Grant applications are due to open in the coming days. To be informed when applications open, please subscribe to the Business Victoria Update.

Licensed Hospitality Venue Support Program

The Victorian Government is also providing support for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres to help them survive through ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Allocations under this grant fund are based on venue patron caps and differ between metro and regional–

  1. For venues whose license allows for 1-20 patrons, they will be eligible for grants of $10,000 in regional Victoria and $15,000 in metro Melbourne;
  2. For venues with patron caps of between 21 and 100, regional Victorian operators are eligible for $15,000 grants, and those in metro Melbourne are eligible for grants of $20,000;
  3. For venues with patron caps of greater than 100, grants of $25,000 will be available in regional Victoria and $30,000 in metro Melbourne.

Grant applications are due to open in the coming days. To be informed when applications open, please subscribe to the Business Victoria Update.

 

This grant fund may supply a bigger cash injection into your venue. You may fit more logically into this category rather than the Business Support Fund, so please make sure you check the details of both grants to ensure you apply for the most appropriate opportunity.

For more information click here.

Upcoming Events
VTIC Insights Series with Visit Victoria

This Wednesday 23 September we will be joined by Visit Victoria at the VTIC Insights Series, with CEO Brendan McClements, Head of Customer Experience Shae Keenan, and Head of Consumer Insights Julian Major joining the panel.
Brendan will provide an update from Visit Victoria before Shae gives an overview of the Click For Vic campaign, which encourages consumers to support Victoria’s tourism industry by buying online now and visiting when travel restrictions are eased.

Julian will run through how the mindset of Victoria and Australia has changed over time and what this tells us about the recovery for the Visitor Economy, with data from Visit Victoria’s consumer sentiment tracking.

Click here to register.

Survive, Revive, Thrive Business Forum
Business Wodonga are hosting a session for businesses this Thursday 24 September to collaborate on the future of hospitality, tourism, accommodation and retail. The session will explore how to attract visitors and locals to businesses in greater numbers.

Click here to register.

VTIC details
A reminder to our members that our telephone number has recently changed, and we can now be reached on 03 7035 5700. Our main contact email, info@vtic.com.au, remains the same.

 

Kind regards,

Felicia Mariani
Chief Executive Officer

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