Tourism operators in Western Australia have been offered a lifeline by the state government with a $14.4 million recovery package to help them “reshape” their businesses in the COVID-19 landscape.
The two-pronged initiative includes $10.4 million in one-off cash grants of $6,500 to eligible tourism operators to provide immediate support to micro tourism businesses, such as sole traders and businesses with four or fewer employees. Up to 1,600 small businesses with annual wages of less than $1 million (such as accommodation operators, attractions, tour and transport businesses) will benefit from the rescue package.
The second initiative is a $4 million Tourism Business Survival Grants package available for tourism operators coping 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. Businesses which deliver iconic experiences are also eligible to apply.
“With some regional travel and other restrictions being cautiously eased from Monday 18 May, as part of the WA Roadmap, the State Government’s Tourism Recovery Program will enable tourism operators to prepare for a staged return to business in a new environment,” the McGowan Government said.
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 here: tourism.wa.gov.au/WATourismRecoveryProgram
More information on the Tourism Business Survival Grants package, including how businesses can apply, will be released shortly.
The new Tourism Recovery Fund and Business Survival Grant package are on top of the McGowan Government’s $1.8 billion stimulus and relief package invested so far in response to COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has been devastating for WA tourism – with thousands of small businesses impacted all around the state,” said WA Premier Mark McGowan.
“This new funding package will help small tourism operators adjust and adapt their businesses away from targeting the international and interstate market and towards Western Australians.
“With the easing of regional travel restrictions it is anticipated thousands of Western Australians will be looking to travel around WA this year – and we want as many local businesses as possible benefiting from these opportunities.
“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.”
Western Australia Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the state’s tourism sector had gone from record visitor numbers to a “complete industry shutdown” in only a few months.
“The impact on the thousands of Western Australians who make their living in the sector has been severe. 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.”
Papalia said the relief package would help the sector get back on its feet.