AS Victoria recorded another 17 COVID-19 cases overnight, City of Whittlesea has had 25 confirmed cases to date, Mitchell Shire nine and Macedon Ranges now sits at eight.
Yesterday New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern joined Australia’s national cabinet meeting to discuss both countries’ plans to reopen.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the likelihood of opening the Australian borders to New Zealanders was still “some time away” and insisted the initial focus will be on reopening the state borders.
Peak national body Australian Regional Tourism, ART, has been working with the Federal Government to secure essential support for the tourism sector as it begins considering the reopening of borders.
Throughout the crisis ART has maintained contact with regions via its ongoing discussions with industry operators and local government contacts.
ART reports there is a strong enthusiasm in regional areas but it is being met with a certain apprehension being felt across the tourism sector.
“Talking to our members and industry stakeholders, we have clearly identified the need for hands-on resources in-region to provide support to the tourism industry as it navigates the long process to opening its doors once again,” ART deputy chair Donna Foster said.
“For many regional areas the pandemic has come at an extremely challenging time as many battle the impacts of the prolonged drought and others recover from this season’s devastating bushfires, the pressure on businesses and local councils was already enormous and this has just been magnified.”
Hanging Rock Winery owner Shane Caruana said the pandemic cut short the past two months of the winery’s peak season.
“Our peak visiting times are from September to April. Without visitors coming to taste the wine, experience the views and try our picnic boxes and cheese boards – we’re not making the same amount of sales online as we did through our cellar,” Mr Caruana said.
“We’re hoping it will change soon and people can start visiting again.”
ART is calling for support from the Federal Government to allow industry experts and specialists to get out into rural and remote regional areas to provide much needed assistance to tourism operators, visitor centres and local council staff.