- Corporate News
COVID-19 CEO Update - 22 March
This weekend, the state and federal governments have released significant economic packages in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Today the Australian Government released the second stage of its economic plan – totalling a $189 billion package – to support people and businesses. You can read more about this package here.
The Victorian Government has also announced a $1.7 billion economic and jobs package to support those hardest hit by coronavirus COVID-19, including tourism. This package will be welcome news for many tourism businesses and workers across the state as it includes tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million and establishes a $500 million a Business Support Fund to the sectors most impacted. The Victorian Government also flagged that this package would be the first of many announcements to further support Victorian businesses and jobs.
The Australian Government is recommending against all unnecessary travel within Australia at this time, in order to protect the community from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The National Cabinet is meeting again tonight, Sunday 22 March, to discuss further measures.
Physical distancing rules have also been released in recent days, recommending people maintain a clear space of four-square metres around them in indoor spaces, and advice to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from other people. We know this is impacting many cafes, restaurants, bars and other tourism business owners, which operate across our state. These restrictions and the bans on non-essential gatherings of 100 or more people indoors and 500 or more outdoors will continue until midnight on 13 April 2020.
These measures will have far-reaching implications for our industry, particularly the many tourism operators which rely on peak holiday periods such as Easter and the school holidays. While these are incredibly challenging times, these decisions have not been made lightly and are being put in place to restrict the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect vulnerable members of our community.
We are working closely with government, Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) and we are gathering input and feedback from industry. On Friday we had a Regional Tourism Board forum with Chairs and CEOs, which provided valuable insights to us on what’s happening on the ground and what’s need in the regions.
There are a number of other packages, websites and initiatives which may assist the industry, including:
- Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.The hotline will provide the latest information on the response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and how this affects businesses, including how to access financial support available through the national stimulus package. Operators calling the hotline will be able to get information about support services, including those available through Business Victoria, which offers mentoring to help operators develop business continuity and recovery plans.The Australian Banking Association (ABA) announced that their members will defer loan repayments for six months for small businesses who need assistance because of the impacts of the coronavirus.
- The Federal Government announced a $715 million aviation package for the refunding and ongoing waiving of a range Government charges on the industry including aviation fuel excise, Airservices charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges.
- The Victorian Government issued its COVID-19 Pandemic plan for the Victorian Health Sector which details the staged response to containing the coronavirus disease in Victoria.
- The Federal Government released an economic stimulus packagewhich may assist some businesses.
- Here is a fact sheet on health.gov.au for hotels and hotel staff.
- Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants Program: due to restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, the closing dates for Stream 1 and Stream 2 of the program will be extended. The program is still open for applications.
- The Department of Health and Human Services has the latest information here.
I will continue to provide more information as the situation unfolds.
Brendan McClements CEO, Visit Victoria
What is the latest advice from the Australian Government in regard to tourism and travel?
- As of 22 March 2020, the Australian Government is recommending all non-essential travel within Australia should be cancelled.
- There is also a travel ban for all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming to Australia effective from 9:00pm, 20 March 2020, with all International flights suspended from 30 March 2020.
- The Australian Government advises all Australians: do not travel overseas at this time.
- All people returning to Australia must self-isolate for 14 days – for details on this visit the DHHS website.
What is the advice around school holiday/ Easter bookings?
- The government has recently advised Australians to cancel all non-essential travel at this time.
- Further details around domestic travel will be announced on Tuesday 24 March ahead of the school holiday/ Easter period.
What happens if my domestic clients choose to cancel their accommodation due to COVID-19?
- If the government issues explicit advice which restricts non-essential travel to your area, it will trigger a 'frustrated contract' under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, which means it is impossible to perform or carry out a contract due to events beyond all parties' control.
- In this scenario, the customer would be entitled to a refund of any payments already made. The law may also entitle you to any reasonable expenses you incurred before the customer cancelled.
- The best solution is to talk to the customer to negotiate alternative arrangements, such as postponing travel until a later date.
What financial support is available to my tourism business?
- The Victorian Government has announced a $1.7 billion economic and jobs package to help Victorian businesses and workers survive the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Read the Premier’s media release for the full range of measures included in the package and register with Business Victoria to receive more details on the program.
What else can I do keep my tourism business afloat during this crisis?
- CPA Australia have produced a helpful factsheet Preparing for COVID-19: Tips for Small Business.
- Business owners can also call Business Victoria on 13 22 15 to seek advice and support or visit their website.
How long will the tourism industry be impacted?
- Currently the State of Emergency declared in Victoria has been set until midnight 13 April 2020, but due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic this could be extended. We are closely monitoring the DHHS coronavirus website for updates.