The Marshall Liberal Government must deliver much-needed support for South Australia’s tourism and hospitality sector in this week’s budget, after the tourism voucher scheme fell short of expectations.
It has emerged only 20,000 of the total 50,000 vouchers have actually been redeemed, with today marking the deadline for bookings to be made. The government budgeted $4 million for the scheme, meaning as much as $2.4 million has not been spent.
The government has already extended the deadline once following a low booking rate.
The Opposition has previously highlighted the scope of the voucher scheme is too narrow. The scheme only covers specific accommodation providers, excluding other businesses in areas such as hospitality, experiences, tours and attractions – 97 per cent of all listings on the Government-run southaustralia.com are excluded. Saturday nights are also excluded.
This follows a tough week for the sector, with the Marshall Liberal Government choosing to axe the Adelaide 500 Supercar race. The Tour Down Under has also been cancelled for 2021. Collectively, those two events alone bring in an estimated 60,000 interstate and overseas visitors and generate about $100 million in economic activity.
There are also serious question marks surrounding the Adelaide International tennis tournament.
Way back in March, as the full impact of the pandemic was only beginning to emerge, Labor called for the Marshall Liberal Government to establish a $200 million support fund, as well as waive thousands of dollars’ worth of fees, charges and taxes to keep hospitality and tourism businesses alive and save thousands of jobs. Those calls were ignored.
Quotes attributable to SA Labor Leader Peter Malinauskas
Our tourism and hospitality sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now they’re being hit again by a raft of cancelled major events and the narrow scope of the tourism voucher scheme.
And looming over the horizon is the reduction and eventual loss of the JobKeeper payment, which is due to go by March next year.
This budget must provide immediate and real support for these businesses to ensure they can survive.
If Steven Marshall is going to be cancelling events like the Adelaide 500, he needs to explain to the tourism and hospitality sector how he plans to fill that void.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison
The Marshall Liberal Government’s tourism vouchers have failed to provide the full stimulus promised to local businesses.
Steven Marshall needs to offer the unused vouchers to the public and broaden the scope of these vouchers, so that people have more choice and more businesses can benefit.
Clearly, the scope of this scheme has been too narrow and many have snapped up a voucher, but then failed to make a booking once they’ve realised so many providers and Saturday nights are excluded.