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Tourism bodies say there were “no surprises” in the Federal budget as the region prepares for more than 5000 less jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Late last month, the government announced it would inject $250 million into regional Australia through a $50 million Regional Tourism Recovery initiative as well as $200 million for an additional round of the Building Better Regions Fund. No south-west tourism locations were earmarked to received funding and Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism chair Wayne Kayler-Thomson said he was very disappointed Tuesday’s budget didn’t further extend the Regional Tourism Recovery initiative. “The Great Ocean Road is Victoria’s most visited region by international visitors and the third highest regional destination in the country behind only Gold Coast and Blue Mountains,” he said. “The visitor economy has been one of the hardest sectors hit and, with Melbourne restricted and interstate and international borders remaining closed, the region faces severe impacts. “Current scenario planning has the region forecast to lose 39 per cent of visitor spending in 2020/21 on top of lost revenue in the first six months. This could result in more than 5000 less jobs which represents a seven per cent decline in all jobs in the region, from the visitor economy alone.” Mr Kayler-Thomson said the Building Better Region Fund may provide an opportunity to accelerate implementation of some key projects. “New public and private sector infrastructure like the implementation of the Twelve Apostles Precinct Master Plan will increase the region’s competitiveness and increase length of stay, yield and dispersal,” he said. “While this game-changing project has funding committed from the Geelong and Great Ocean Road City Deal, it is insufficient to develop a world class visitor experience.” The Grampians chief executive Marc Sleeman said additional infrastructure funding was needed. “There were no surprises in the budget last night.” he said. “We would like to see some additional infrastructure support for our national park assets, they are a key attraction for The Grampians. “We are the third most attended national park in the state, we need additional help to support the demand that is here from the top to bottom of the park. We are seeing continued to be concentration in small areas when dispersal is critical.” Mr Sleeman said he was happy to see funding for visitor economies but the tourism body will continue to advocate for infrastructure. “We have a clear infrastructure list of an Investment Prospectus Masterplan, Mackenzie Falls Day Visitor site revitalisation, The National Park and Cultural Centre in Brambuk and the Grampians Peaks Trail,” he said. “The state government is well aware of this list and we will continue advocating this list ahead of their budget.” READ MORE: Other Budget announcements include Tourism Australia receiving $231.6 million for 2020-21 to ramp up domestic marketing activities and $61.7 million to be invested in heritage upgrades, conservation work and reef building. According to new data from Tourism Research Australia, the country’s tourism has seen overall losses of $33.7 billion for January to June 2020. Of this, $12 billion or 53 per cent has been lost on international tourism and $21.7 billion on domestic tourism, including $17.7 billion from overnight travel and $4 billion for day travel. Listen to the latest episode of our weekly episode The Booletin and Beyond: Have you signed up to The Standard’s daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that’s happening in the south-west.

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