Yarrawonga Chronicle

$52m a week wipeout

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A report released by Murray Regional Tourism has revealed the region could lose out on more than $50 million for every week the NSWVictori­a border closure continues, as COVID-19 restrictio­ns continue to destroy the tourism industry.

This comes as the latest Tourism Research Australia data for the year ending March 2021, paints a very grim picture for the Murray region across all key economic indicators.

For the 16-month period between March 2020 and July 2021 the total number of visitors to the Murray region was down by 2.8 million people with a loss of $1 billion in direct visitor expenditur­e and a loss of 10,000 jobs based on direct expenditur­e.

With the Victorian Government tightening rules for NSW-Victoria border bubble residents with only 10 essential reasons to cross the border, numbers were not looking to rise at all for a while yet.

Yarrawonga Mulwala Tourism & Business Executive Noel Wright said the figures were not surprising.

“You can feel the impact in the street,” Mr Wright said.

“Even when we are out of lockdown in Victoria border restrictio­ns are still having a major effect.

“You lose half of Yarrawonga Mulwala’s tourism appeal with a border closure, people come here for the Yarrawonga Mulwala experience, not just for Yarrawonga.”

Mr Wright said the impacts will be felt for some time with NSW cases still high and the uncertaint­y of how long the border closures will be in place.

“There is no end date, people are just unsure and are cancelling their bookings. There is still a lot of uncertaint­y looking forward.”

Murray Regional Tourism Chair, Wendy Greiner said with the most recent tightening of restrictio­ns placed on border towns, the economic impact is additional­ly felt given local communitie­s are now restricted from moving freely across the border to enjoy a number of factors which were all part of the border bubble.

“Due to border closures and movement restrictio­ns, the subsequent impact to visitor expenditur­e for the Murray region over the 16-month period of the pandemic is estimated at a loss of between $2.27 billion and $2.93 billion in visitor spend,” Ms Greiner said.

“Based on the loss of visitor expenditur­e, it is estimated that between 34,100 and 44,000 tourism-related jobs in the Murray region were also disrupted during the period between March 2020 and July 2021.

“The economic impact is additional­ly felt given local communitie­s are now restricted from moving freely across the border to enjoy dining, shopping, recreation­al and entertainm­ent facilities which were all part of the border bubble.

“We are urging both government­s to work collaborat­ively to develop a sustainabl­e longterm solution and future pathway to ensure the Murray region can welcome visitors safely and rebuild jobs for this critical sector.

“Australia’s vaccine rollout must be fasttracke­d to help the industry recover. Covid and the delta strain has changed the game with the whole nation now at risk.”

Given that the core market of visitors to the Murray region is Victoria and the ease with which visitors usually cross the Murray River to experience and enjoy the interconne­cted communitie­s, when one area is impacted all areas are impacted, with business, staff and local economies all crushed.

The report revealed ongoing restrictio­ns for travel into NSW further elevate the issue for the Murray region with the report providing impacts of the loss of 83,000 visitors per week, expenditur­e loss of $52 million and as a result of direct expenditur­e loss forecast 780 tourism related jobs will be disrupted for every week the border lockdown continues.

The report also assessed both the June and July lockdowns with key findings showing that it is estimated that the Murray region experience­d a loss of 549,000 visitors due to the lockdown measures in June 2021, resulting in estimated loss of $253 million in visitor spend and a loss of direct expenditur­e estimates forecast 3,800 tourism-related jobs in the Murray region were disrupted.

It is also estimated that for July 2021 the Murray region experience­d a loss of 498,000 visitors due to the lockdown measures and a loss of direct expenditur­e estimated forecast 4,900 tourism-related jobs in the Murray region were disrupted.

Dire economic forecasts are now predicting it could take up to three years for the border regions to recover, with fears some areas will be left ghost towns as crippled businesses are forced to close.

But amid ongoing criticism about snap lockdowns and border closures, a parliament­ary inquiry into the pandemic’s effect on tourism and events urged government­s to provide more certainty on the triggers they will use for future restrictio­ns.

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 ??  ?? Events such as the Lake Mulwala Rod Run, which generate a great deal for the town, were unable to go ahead last year resulting in losses to expenditur­e and visitation.
Events such as the Lake Mulwala Rod Run, which generate a great deal for the town, were unable to go ahead last year resulting in losses to expenditur­e and visitation.

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