The NT Government has announced more than 26,000 vouchers worth $200 each for Territorians to spend on tourism in the NT.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said they would be available from July 1 for Territorians over 18, and to be spent on tours, accommodation, hire cars or recreational fishing charters in the Territory, so long as people match the spend with their own money.
“Our tourism and hospitality industries have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. The Territory Tourism Voucher will give them the boost they need ahead of our borders re-opening,” Mr Gunner said.
“Explore our backyard, buy local and back locals – before the tourists arrive. This will give local operators the support they need and help them prepare to welcome tourists from interstate once it’s safe to do so.”
Mr Gunner did not say exactly how many vouchers there were but did say it would cost $5.2 million, with the initiative supported by a marketing campaign ‘Never have I ever…’ , developed in partnership with Tourism Top End and Tourism Central Australia.
On May 20 the NT Independent revealed there would be a tourism stimulus scheme to help tourism operators stay in business while the industry recovers from the decision to keep the borders closed during what is the Territory’s prime tourism season.
Voucher holders will be able to use their vouchers online, over the phone or in person through their local visitor information centres.
Tourism Top End general manager Glen Hingley said it would be a chance for Territorians to “rediscover” the NT.
“This tourism voucher initiative assists Territorians to support our many tourism businesses who are doing it hard at the moment,” he said.
The government created its own crisis with its Home Improvement Scheme which was announced in April and was originally a $30 million stimulus scheme to keep trades businesses operating during the pandemic, but it quickly ballooned to a $100 million scheme due to high demand from NT homeowners.
A Department of Business source who works on the scheme said the department would have trouble explaining its actions if the Auditor General were to scrutinise its fast-track funding approvals.
NT Auditor General Julie Crisp confirmed she would be auditing all of the Gunner Government’s COVID-19 stimulus programs, which were estimated to cost more than $230 million by late May.
With the tourism scheme there seems to be a cap on the number of vouchuers but it did not state this explicitly in the press release.
In May, Mr Gunner assembled a task force called the Rebound Tourism Commission to examine how best to help the industry survive the coronavirus pandemic. Its terms of reference were bleak, suggesting the industry may “never see a return to a pre-COVID-19 context”.
Vouchers are valid for 30 days, with bookings and travel to be completed by October 31, 2020.
The Gunner Government already spent $2 million to minimise the impact to the NT tourism industry from the Australian Bushfires.
From July 1, you will be able to register and redeem their tourism voucher at www.territoryvoucher.nt.gov.au.