Third round of Tasmanian travel vouchers set to combat COVID-19 tourism hit

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Tasmania’s tourism operators are facing another sugar hit, with another round of travel vouchers announced to combat the impact of border closures.

But this year’s Make Yourself at Home vouchers will look different from those of 2020.

Full details are yet to be released but Tasmanians will need to pre-register in a lottery-style system.

The first two rounds of vouchers in 2020 offered rebates of up to $150 for accommodation and $50 for tourism experiences.

Last year’s release of Tasmanian travel vouchers caused frustration and anger, with many prospective holidaymakers unable to log on to the website or procure one before they ran out.

Frustration levels intensified when thousands of vouchers went unspent.

Premier Peter Gutwein told delegates at the State Liberal Conference in Launceston the recent border closures to Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia had left the state’s tourism and hospitality sectors struggling.

He said his government would fund a $7.5 million voucher scheme to run during August and September.

“We’ll be releasing them, I expect, the week after next, once systems and processes are put in place based on learnings from the first voucher program,” Mr Gutwein said.

Weekend vouchers key, say operators

While last year’s vouchers were redeemable during the October school holidays, this time they will only be valid during the school term.

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania said it was therefore important they be redeemable on weekends.

“We’re very keen to see some of the parameters of last year’s scheme reviewed and one of them being we shouldn’t limit this to weekdays,” said the council’s chief executive officer Luke Martin.

He said that would make a weekend in Hobart as attractive as taking a trip up or down the coast.

“A city hit is just as important as getting Hobartians out to the regions,” he said.

Mr Martin said allowing people to pass unused vouchers on was also important.

“If we can work out a way where people can return them if they’re not going to use them or make it easy to pass them on to family and friends,” he said.

“The main goal here is to get the money out the door.

“Simple as possible is the key. We know from last year what worked and what didn’t. It’s not the answer for every business but it’s certainly a welcome shot in the arm.”

Mr Gutwein said about $27.5 million in additional spending was generated across the state through last year’s scheme.

Tasmanians will be able to express their interest the week after next when the scheme is opened, with the vouchers redeemable for travel up until September 24 — the start of the school holiday period.

Plea for smaller destination visits

Simone Carter is the owner of a small accommodation business in the historic Hobart town of Richmond.

She said many of last year’s vouchers seemed to be spent on Tasmania’s more well-known attractions, like Cradle Mountain, and she hoped travellers would keep their minds open when picking destinations.

“The vouchers are a great way to get out and see this beautiful state,” she said.

“I hope they consider businesses of all sizes because obviously in the tourism and hospitality sector, everyone’s doing it tough at the moment.”

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By Alison Costelloe (Original ABC Article)