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It’s been a start to the year that no one anticipated, and one that continues to challenge us all. 

Yet as we head towards Easter, we can all take inspiration from the way in which our industry is pulling together, supporting each other and finding ways to innovate and adapt. 

Many of you are changing and adapting your business models. From virtual galleries and live streamed symphonies, to distilleries making hand sanitiser and fine diners offering home delivery, businesses across Victoria have been quick to show their resilience and innovation. 

At Visit Victoria and the Melbourne Convention Bureau, we’re already planning how we can play a part in supporting and rebuilding the business events sector and tourism industry when this has passed. 

But right now, the message is clear: everyone must stay home. For accommodation providers, you are strongly advised not to accept bookings for leisure travel. Accommodation should only be provided to: 

  • People who live there permanently
  • People without a permanent place of residence
  • People whose permanent place of residence is temporarily unavailable
  • People who have travelled to Victoria for work
  • People who were already staying there temporarily at the time the restrictions came into force
  • People who need emergency accommodation as a result of family violence or other threat
  • People who require accommodation for work, where their work is helping to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Consumer Affairs Victoria states that under Australian Consumer Law if a trip cannot proceed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) consumers are entitled to a refund for any services not provided. 

Organisers may deduct reasonable expenses they have already incurred from any refund. Organisers should have clear refund policies and processes in place, to ensure they meet their obligations. Read more

It’s best to talk to your customer to negotiate alternative arrangements, such as holding the deposit over to be used at a different time.   

Visit Victoria is strongly encouraging people to postpone, not cancel their holiday bookings, through our communications. 

The Victorian Government has established an Economic Survival Package to support Victorian businesses and workers through the far reaching implications of coronavirus (COVID-19). You can read about the key programs under the $1.7 billion package here

If you haven’t already, I encourage eligible small businesses to apply for a $10,000 grant through the Victorian Government’s Business Support Fund. More than 16,000 businesses have already applied and $50 million in grants will have been paid to 5,000 businesses across the state by the end of today.

Some of you have also been asking about support for sole traders. The Commonwealth Government has announced measures to support sole traders. Visit their business website for more information.     

The National Cabinet has endorsed a mandatory Code of Conduct to guide commercial tenancy arrangements, which includes a principle of proportionality to rent reductions based on the tenant’s decline in turnover, to ensure that the burden is shared between landlords and tenants. The Code also allows tenants and landlords to agree to their own temporary arrangements.

 Other resources and links:

  • There is a range of support packages available to small to medium sized business from both the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments. You can visit our website for more resources and FAQs.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has also responded to frequently asked questions from the community about the stay at home restrictions.
  • You can also receive updates from the Commonwealth Government via the COVID-19 WhatsApp. Download WhatsApp onto your smartphone, then follow the prompts here.

These are unprecedented times. But we are all in this together and we all have a part to play to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and save lives.        

Kind regards,

Brendan McClements CEO, Visit Victoria