Tasmanians will be able to claim vouchers for intrastate tourism activities on a ‘first in, best dressed’ basis, Premier Peter Gutwein has confirmed.
Through the $7.5 million Make Yourself At Home travel voucher scheme, vouchers will be available for accommodation stays between Sunday and Thursday and tourism experiences on any day of the week.
The scheme will run from September 7 to December 1, including the school holidays, and Tasmanians are not required to travel outside their municipality to use a voucher.
Mr Gutwein announced on Thursday registrations for the vouchers would open on the Make Yourself At Home website from 9am on Monday, September 7.
There will also be a helpline to assist people through the registration process.
“This is a first in, best dressed scenario. I would expect we will have thousands of hits on the website that Monday morning,” Mr Gutwein said.
“Tasmanians will pay and undertake their travel activity and they can then claim the value of their vouchers for eligible accommodation or an eligible travel experience.
“They will be able to do this through the provision of valid receipts for the eligible travel activity and will be reimbursed the value of their voucher into their nominated bank account.”
Mr Gutwein said when a person registers for a voucher they will be provided a unique identifier number which they can use for their booking.
“You will have your voucher and you will know when you go and have your tourism experience you will get a refund,” he said.
In other news:
The vouchers are available to Tasmanian residents aged 18 and over.
Once vouchers have been redeemed, Tasmanians can apply for additional vouchers if they are available.
The vouchers will be available for one adult, two adults or for a family, with vouchers available for up to three children.
One adult can register for one $100 accommodation voucher and one $50 experience voucher.
A couple will be able to access up to two $100 accommodation vouchers which must be used on separate nights and they will be able to access two $50 experience vouchers.
There is a package of up to $550 available for families.
Families of up to two adults can access $150 per night for up to two nights of accommodation.
In a family, two adults and up to three children can access a $50 experience voucher each.
“For example, you might be a family of five from Launceston who chooses to stay three nights on the West Coast,” Mr Gutwein said.
“You could potentially claim up to $300 for your stay in a B&B or hotel in the region and up to $250 for a boat cruise or a ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway.
“The voucher incentive scheme will encourage intrastate visitation and will encourage Tasmanians to get out and experience their home state, the most unique and beautiful place in the world.”
Mr Gutwein said the scheme would encourage Tasmanians to also spend money on petrol and food around the state.
But Tasmanian Hospitality Association chief executive Steve Old said the hospitality side of the tourism sector had been left behind and the vouchers should be valid for venues or certain events.
“They should be helping out all parts of the industry, not certain parts of it,” Mr Old said.
“Our restaurants, cafes and eateries are bleeding at the moment. Hospitality has been hardest hit through this and we are not getting a lot of assistance.
“I can sympathise as to why you can’t use it on alcohol but I can’t understand why you shouldn’t be able to use it to have a meal.”
TasCOSS chief executive Adrienne Picone said the government had an obligation to make sure the travel vouchers were accessible for all Tasmanians.
“We know Tasmanians have lower levels of digital literacy and access that other states and jurisdictions; in some Tasmanians towns as many as 30 per cent of households do not have access to the internet,” Ms Picone said.
“ABS data shows that 25 of the 28 suburbs in Tasmania where more than 20 per cent of the dwellings did not have internet access are in areas of highest socio-economic disadvantage.
“More than one-third of these suburbs are on the North-West and West Coast of Tasmania.”
Labor leader Rebecca White welcomed the initiative but said there were a few issues with the scheme including around equity of access.
“There might be people who miss out because they don’t have a computer or they don’t have internet access,” Ms White said.
“The way the scheme is designed will exclude many in the industry who would have hoped to benefit – cafes, restaurants and events such as comedy shows or theatre productions won’t qualify.
“The omission of these businesses by the government ignores the significant contribution the hospitality sector and creative industries make to the visitor economy.”
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor encouraged every Tasmanian who could to access the vouchers and get out and see the beautiful island.
Ms O’Connor said she hoped the fact it was a rebate scheme would not be a disincentive.
“It’s better than handing out money up front because it makes sure money is spent in local communities,” she said.