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WA steps up with $14.4m tourism windfall

Should all states be doing the same thing?

A new recovery package aims to support small tourism operators around Western Australia to help them adapt and refocus their businesses in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

Thousands of small businesses around the State struggling with the impacts of travel restrictions but some regional travel and other restrictions will be cautiously eased this week as part of a statewide staged return Tourism Recovery Program.

Premier Mark McGowan said: “COVID-19 has been devastating for WA tourism – with thousands of small businesses impacted all around the State. I want to acknowledge every Western Australian for their patience during this COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been trying and nothing like any of us have ever experienced before.

“The broadened boundaries still impact areas including the regions north of our State and the Goldfields-Esperance region along with biosecurity regions and remote communities. The restrictions are in place to protect more vulnerable communities north of our State. Where we can alter these, we will.

While it’s starting to look more encouraging we’re not out of the woods yet and every move and adjustment is made based on the best of health advice.

The $14.4 million initiative includes two funding programs – with an initial $10.4 million in one-off cash grants for up to 1,600 individual small businesses around the State.

The $6,500 grants will provide immediate support to eligible tourism operators with annual taxable wages of less than $1 million, including accommodation, attraction, tour and transport businesses.

The second, $4 million Tourism Business Survival Grants package will be available for tourism operators dealing with exceptionally difficult circumstances – with grants of $25,000-$100,000 available.

The Survival Grants will target businesses located in parts of the State with more restrictive travel bans in place, or whose circumstances otherwise mean they will face a more difficult road to recovery. Businesses which deliver iconic experiences are also eligible to apply. A probity auditor would review the robust and transparent criteria-led application and panel assessment.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia added: “In only a few short months, WA tourism has gone from enjoying record international and interstate visitor numbers to a complete industry shutdown. With international and interstate border restrictions expected to remain for some time, we are now focused on helping tourism operators to adjust their businesses to appeal to the intrastate market.

“This much needed relief package will help the sector get back on its feet and reorganise for the intrastate market, as the State Government and Tourism WA continue planning for the next stage of recovery.”

As part of the application process, businesses are required to submit a recovery and marketing plan to outline how the funding will be used and indicate how their product, service or experience could be adapted.

Businesses must have a valid Australian Business Number and be an active part of the WA tourism industry through membership of one of the State’s eligible tourism organisations, or tourism accreditation programs.

The funding announcement follows the establishment of Tourism WA’s dedicated COVID-19 Industry Support Team last month. The team has contacted hundreds of Western Australian tourism operators to offer help and support, while gathering information to help guide recovery initiatives.

More information on the Tourism Business Survival Grants package, including how businesses can apply, will be released shortly, according to the WA state government. The new Tourism Recovery Fund and Business Survival Grant package is on top of the McGowan Government’s $1.8 billion stimulus and relief package invested so far in response to COVID-19.

What will businesses receive:

  • New funding package to support and boost small tourism businesses
  • Follows release of the WA Roadmap to get Western Australians back to work safely
  • $10.4 million Tourism Recovery Fund will provide one-off cash grants to assist thousands of businesses to adapt to new tourism landscape
  • Further $4 million Tourism Business Survival Grants to support businesses dealing with exceptionally difficult circumstances
  • Initiative will assist tourism sector to refocus on the WA market
  • Tourism WA developing new marketing campaign to promote WA destinations

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