TOURISM leaders have welcomed a state government package that will help regional Victoria's economic recovery.
On Wednesday morning, the Victorian government announced it will spend $465 million enticing visitors to regional areas with plans to give out 120,000 vouchers of up to $200 to entice people into regional areas from December.
City of Greater Bendigo tourism and major events manager Terry Karamaloudis said it was extremely exciting and welcome news for the tourism industry.
"The lobbying we have been doing with local councils, regional tourism boards and the Victoria Tourism Industry Council has been relentless," he said. "Taking out the major events, gallery exhibition and theatre closures means (the local economy has lost) up to $100 million. That's a lot of money.
"We believe seeing this (package) that the government is listening and acting on feedback from local government and the tourism sector."
The voucher package will allow people to apply for the vouchers if they spend more than $400 on accommodation, attractions or tours in regional Victoria.
VTIC chief executive Felicia Mariani said the strong investment from the state government would give Victoria's visitor economy the best chance of recovering, thriving and growing.
"The Victorian Government understands the state's visitor economy can drive our economic recovery," she said. "This $465 million commitment to our future is unprecedented and is the result of close collaboration with government departments to set a course for recovery.
"VTIC worked with the industry to develop submissions to the Regional Tourism Review last year...Many of the elements funded today were highlighted in these submissions as vital to our future growth."
Mr Karamaloudis said he hoped the announcement would lead to further support for the tourism industry.
"Half the Melbourne population has never travelled to regional areas," he said. "What better time is there than now, to add to this amazing support the government has announced?"
The budget will also provide more than $149 million to build new visitor accommodation, improve major tourist trails, and drive more people out to taste the world-class produce, food and wine on our doorstop. A $150 million fund will be set up for First Nation nature and cultural experiences.
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