March 17, 2020
The Visit South Burnett (VSB) local tourism organisation is concerned event cancellations due to COVID-19 could devastate the region’s tourism operators.
They are also concerned the South Burnett may see very little of the Federal Government’s promised assistance package for regional areas hit hard by the pandemic’s economic impacts.
On Tuesday night, VSB sent an email to members to let them know its views on the COVID-19 crisis and proposed actions.
“We are all now aware of the challenging circumstances that confront our tourism industry and the wider region as a result of COVID-19,” VSB president Jason Kinsella said.
“As members will be aware, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has advised cancellation of mass gatherings and urged Australians not to travel overseas.
“Following a COAG meeting in Sydney last Friday, Commonwealth, State and Territory governments agreed to provide public advice against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday, March 16.
“For those events that are not affected by the cancellation of mass gatherings of 500 people or more, it is recommended that an exit strategy is in place.
“Clear, consistent communication is essential to all suppliers, attendees and other relevant parties and organisations through all communication channels, whether the event is progressing or is being cancelled.”
Mr Kinsella said the South Burnett was already experiencing cancellations and postponements of functions booked for the coming months, with a host of regional festivals and events either postponed, cancelled or developing a deadline for go/no go decisions.
“This will have serious cash flow implications for not only our region’s tourism businesses, but for the region as a whole,” he said.
Mr Kinsella said he had a meeting scheduled with Southern Qld Country Tourism (SQCT) CEO Peter Homan later this week to discuss options and strategies to address the challenges COVID-19 was causing.
“The Federal Government has announced a $1.6 billion assistance program but unfortunately I fear the big end of town who already have lobbyists in Canberra will secure the bulk of these funds and they will fail to land in the regions and businesses most in need.
“Visit South Burnett … will be working closely with SQCT and the Federal, State and Local Governments to keep members up to date with any and all recommendations in relation to protocols and procedures for upcoming events, and to raise awareness of any assistance available.”
Mr Kinsella said VSB were already working on a plan to have someone in the region work one-on-one with tourism industry operators to achieve the best possible outcome for the South Burnett.
“This is without doubt the most serious issue our industry has faced in a generation but we must remain calm, positive and retain a level of optimism while working together on strategies to lessen the effects where possible,” he said.
“While there are many events cancelled, there are also a number of events which have chosen to proceed at this point and as an industry there has never been a more important time to assist with the promotion of those events.”
VSB is seeking information about how individual businesses are being affected.
“This will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and used purely to assist with forming an accurate picture of the effect on our region as a whole,” Mr Kinsella said.
“This will allow VSB to be the most effective advocate for members.”
Businesses who’d like to provide VSB with information can do so by email
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