Great Ocean Road overlooked in tourism support package
The struggling Great Ocean Road tourism industry has been dealt another blow after being left out from a recent share of $50m in federal grants.
Nine "worst hit" tourism regions across the country, which are heavily reliant on international tourism and have been impacted by COVID-19, will benefit from the Federal Government's $50m Recovery for Regional Tourism program.
The likes of the Gold Coast and Phillip Island have made the cut, but the Great Ocean Road - which attracts more than 200,000 international overnight visitors and 800,000 day-trippers annually - has not.
Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism chair Wayne Kayler-Thomson said he was "very surprised" that the region was excluded, and was seeking to have the program be reconsidered.
"The Great Ocean Road is Victoria's most visited regional destination by international visitors," he said.
"But international visitation won't come back until the boarders reopen, which is likely to be some time away."
Mr Kayler-Thomson said government funding was "critically significant" in order to help the region stimulate domestic travel in the meantime and build back its recovery.
In 2018-19, tourism was estimated to be worth $1.1bn to the region's economy, generating 13,100 jobs.
Business and Tourism Anglesea Association president Damien Cerantonio said the lack of federal investment will make it harder for tourism businesses in the region to survive. "For us, the summer period is not the big worry - it's the midweek trade and what autumn, winter and the early part of spring next year looks like," Mr Cerantonio said.
"We are reliant on international travel during those periods."
Mr Cerantonio said funding was "critical" to enable the region to tailor its marketing and offerings to attract domestic travellers during the off-peak period, which would otherwise be largely made up by international travellers.
The federal funding was allocated to regions based on the economic gross value added by international visitors and tourism employment within the region.
Corangamite MP Libby Coker said she was stunned that the Great Ocean Road and Bellarine regions were overlooked considering the significant downturn in international, interstate and Melbourne visitation.
"Many of these businesses have been decimated by the lack of international and interstate travel," Ms Coker said.
"Tourism Australia loves to champion the Great Ocean Road but when it comes to stimulus funding for Victoria, we have been short changed."
Lobby group G21 called on the federal government to rectify the "funding miss" for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road in Tuesday night's federal budget.
Mr Kayler-Thomson said he expects the region will benefit in some capacity from the 2020-21 federal budget.
Liberal senator Sarah Henderson said the federal government has put investment into other funding streams, presenting "very significant" additional opportunities for the region.
Originally published as Great Ocean Road overlooked in tourism support package