While we did not expect the Premier to yesterday announce a lifting of travel restrictions across the state, we were certainly looking for something more substantial than what was delivered; in particular, we were hoping there would be an indication of when and how our sector would be allowed to reanimate.
I’m not going to reiterate the terms of the reopening that the Premier announced, you can read the details in his statement here.
We have been on a very long journey of engagement over the past many weeks and months to put forward the positions and priorities of the industry within the various sector roundtables that have been convened since the Roadmap was launched some weeks back.
Since that time, VTIC convened a Reopening Reference Group that responded to the Guidelines introduced on 16 September with the easing of restrictions across Regional Victoria. Over the past few weeks, we’ve connected with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions in working through the issues we raised in our response and continue to push for all the changes and anomalies that have been surfaced by so many of you from across all spectrums of our industry.
In the midst of this, last week we also convened sector-specific industry associations across accommodation, hospitality and events, along with our regional tourism boards, to consider an alternate approach we might present to drive a reopening plan for the visitor economy.
The group analysed the reopening processes in SA, NSW and QLD, when they were at similar case levels as VIC, to see how we might employ similar tactics in activating our state’s tourism and events sector. Together, we’ve established a pathway based on careful and cautious progression with a ‘test and learn’ approach applied at each level of restriction easing. This is a practice that was consistent across each state and we are advocating similarly here for us.
With this approach in place in other states since June/July, they have now reached points where their industry is broadly open, their outdoor venues and stadia are operating at 50 to 75 per cent capacity and indoor business events are now accepting around 300 guests per event. The critical factor here is that these states have taken roughly four months to land at the capability they are now operating under. If Victoria does not take these initial steps for our industry until late November or December, it will be April or May before we are even at the levels other states have achieved right now, putting us six months behind the rest of the country in our road to recovery.
As such, our position is calling on the Government to lift the ban on travel across the state from 30 October and allow our industry the opportunity to commence with the measured and cautious steps we need to take to achieve an effective reopening of our visitor economy.
You can read here the detail of the statement we collectively launched on Friday.
Following the Premier’s announcement yesterday, VTIC distributed this media statement through our channels.
Throughout the day yesterday I did media across ABC24, SBS, Channel 9, Channel 7, the Herald Sun and ABC radio, pushing hard the message that tourism and events must have clarity and certainty about its future. Waiting week on week to hear what restrictions the Premier will ease is simply no way to run our businesses.
Between now and 1 November, which is the next threshold flagged, VTIC will work closely with all our industry partners to drive our position and push for recognition of tourism needs in this next wave of easing.
I know how hard every one of you has worked to go beyond compliance with the Government’s base level of instruction on COVID-Safe standards. I know you are applying technology in your business to make these efforts more effective, and I know you are painfully aware of the importance of taking steady and measured steps to ensure we manage our forward progress.
Our message is very simple…
“It’s time for the Victorian Government to change gear and focus on measures that will ensure safety while allowing businesses to operate, because extending the shutdown simply cannot be a solution to living with COVID-19.
We need the Andrews Government to recognise and respect the work and effort the industry is putting into its COVID-Safe planning and be given the chance to be a partner in revitalising Victoria’s economy.”
Chief Executive Officer
Visit hub.vtic.com.au for business support resources to guide your planning and response.