The government is considering extending the Make Yourself At Home travel voucher scheme after $7.5 million in vouchers was snapped up eager Tasmanians in less than an hour.
All the vouchers were gone within 40 minutes of the website opening for registrations on Monday with many Tasmanians expressing their disappointment and frustration at missing out on social media.
Criticisms included that the website was not working and that 9am was an inconvenient time for those who had work or family commitments.
Vouchers are valid for use on accommodation stays between Sunday and Thursday and at tourist attractions any day of the week.
Individuals were able to claim $100 towards accommodation and $50 towards an attraction and families were able to claim up to $550.
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Premier Peter Gutwein said about 550 voucher packages a minute were issued after registrations opened online.
“The demand has been far in excess of what we thought it would be,” Mr Gutwein said.
“In the first five minutes, there was more than $1 million in vouchers issued.
“There was around 21,500 vouchers that have been issued and we expect that they will used by between 55,000 and 60,000 Tasmanians.”
Mr Gutwein said he was looking favourably at continuing the program.
“We launched this program as a $7.5 million initiative, however due to the extraordinary take-up and demand for vouchers, we will monitor the use and redemption of vouchers in coming weeks and are already considering the details of a second tranche,” he said.
Tasmanians who were able to secure a voucher will be sent a email reminding them to use their voucher in 30 days and any funds that are not redeemed will go back into the voucher pool.
Mr Gutwein said the website did not crash but it did experience significant traffic.
“If you’ve ever gone online to book a ticket for Coldplay or someone like that you know these things take time,” he said.
Tourism Tasmania chief executive John Fitzgerald said he was thrilled at the reaction to the scheme.
Mr Fitzgerald said it was important Tasmanians support tourism operators in both urban areas and regional areas.
“Tasmanians can go all over the state at the moment so why not use these vouchers to get out there,” he said.
“The tourism industry is open for business.”
But Rumney Labor MLC Sarah Lovell it was misleading of the government to set the program up as something accessible to all Tasmanians when it was clear it would only benefit people who could afford to travel during the week and those who had been able to access the vouchers online during business hours.
“This was never going to be an equitable scheme and the government should have been honest about that from the start,” Ms Lovell said.
She said it was important to remember the money from the scheme was yet to flow to the tourism sector and there needed to be a process of ensuring the vouchers were redeemed.
Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said the scheme was a vote of support for the state’s tourism sector.
“This will go a long way to supporting local businesses in the lead up to summer and I have no doubt it will be a fantastic boost for many that have been doing it tough,” Mr Bailey said.