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Victorians can get $200 travel vouchers

Victorians can apply travel vouchers
Photo: Victoria begins regional travel vouchers
Victoria's regional tourism voucher plan is set to begin, as the state reaches its 41st consecutive day without a new locally-acquired coronavirus case.

Victorians can apply for $200 travel vouchers, designed to boost tourism in bushfire and COVID-19 affected parts of the state.

Households can apply from Friday for the $28 million state government program, which will provide 120,000 vouchers.

Premier Daniel Andrews says the scheme is part of a broader push to revive the state's regional tourism industry.

"There's a real parochialism I think at the moment, a pride about supporting Victoria.

"If those $200 vouchers mean that people stay an extra night, maybe go to a local pub or restaurant. That's all about wages and spending and investment," he said.
Minister for Tourism Martin Pakula expects the scheme to be very popular, especially the first stage, which is for travel between December 12 and January 22.

"I would expect demand to potentially outstrip supply, that's been experienced in other parts of the country," he said.

Households can register for the vouchers from 10 am Friday, and will receive the $200 after their trip.

But tourists will have to spend a minimum of $400 on accommodation, experiences or tours in regional Victoria, as well as at least two nights in accommodation, to be eligible.

"We're not handing out $200 up front, there's got to be some appropriate rigour in this for the state," Mr Pakula said.

Mr Andrews also defended the plan to roll out the vouchers in stages, noting that similar schemes in other states have filled up quickly.

"It's not just about summer, it's more than that, because the recovery will take more than that," he said.

Destinations in the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and the Bellarine will be eligible for the scheme, and households can apply even if their travel has already been booked.

The travel voucher scheme is part of a $300 million tourism package announced in the state budget in November.

Meanwhile the annual report from the state tourism body Visit Victoria was tabled in parliament on Thursday, showing domestic tourists spent $23 billion in the state in the year to March.

While that's up 13 per cent on Visit Victoria's annual target, international spending was seven per cent below target at $8 billion.

The report has limited data on the impact of the pandemic, but shows domestic tourists spent $11 billion in regional Victoria in the year to March.

The tourism voucher program kicks off as Victoria reached 41 days without a new locally-acquired coronavirus case on Thursday, and the state reopens to international travellers after one of the harshest lockdowns in the world.

There were no new cases acquired locally or overseas in the past 24 hours, the state government's Department of Health and Human Services said.

There were also no lives lost, with 11,625 test results received.

At least 405 international arrivals are now quarantining in Melbourne hotels since the state began accepting overseas flights again on Monday.

Of those, 24 are in a "health hotel" for people who have symptoms or other health problems.

So far six of the international travellers who have arrived in Melbourne have showed symptoms, but they returned negative tests on Wednesday.

Up to 1120 international arrivals are scheduled to land at Melbourne airport each week, with travellers sent to city hotels to quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, in a further easing of restrictions, border permits for South Australians to enter Victoria will be scrapped on Saturday.

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