Echuca-Moama business and tourism leaders address Vic Parliament on impacts of COVID

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ECHUCA-Moama has been locked up for much of 2020.

Before that, it ignited the world of tourism.

The industry averaged $ 1.3 million per day, or nearly $ 500 million per calendar year.

Businesses were posting record numbers as the number of tourists increased.

And then it stopped.

Now the story of the damage COVID has done to the industry is finally understood.

Speaking to the Legislative Council’s economy and infrastructure committee, Echuca Moama Tourism chief executive Kathryn Mackenzie said the ramifications of the repeated lockdowns for businesses were still being felt more than a year after the start of the pandemic.

“The Echuca-Moama region has been one of the hardest hit regions in Australia with 41 out of 52 weeks of closures in the 12 months (between) March 2020 and March 2021,” she said. .

“The region before COVID-19 was experiencing a record number of visits, with 797,000 overnight visitors, and visitors spending a record 2.4 million overnight stays in the region and 770,000 national day visitors.

“These visitors spent $ 482 million in the region or more simply contributed $ 1.3 million per day to the economy of local visitors.”

Ms Mackenzie said research into local businesses had shown that many suffered almost unbelievable financial losses, especially when the border was closed again on New Years Eve.

Murray Regional Tourism surveyed tourism businesses along the Murray and found that the impacts on the accommodation industry were immense.

“In the winter of 2020, an average-sized motel lost between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 per month,” said Ms. Mackenzie.

“But in January 2021, when the Victorian border closed, the similarly-sized motel estimated its losses to be between $ 120,000 and $ 150,000 per month.

“With the caravan parks, losses during the winter were between $ 20,000 and $ 50,000 per month, but in January some registered between $ 350,000 and $ 500,000, while some large parks lost about. $ 1.2 million. “

Ms Mackenzie also spoke about the damaging impact of the loss of events, including the Riverboats Music Festival 2021, the Southern 80 and the Winter Blues Festival 2020.

Winter Blues Festival president Peter Williams also addressed the audience, citing a desire for events to be protected the same way businesses would be in the future.

“Winter Blues turned one of the community’s quietest weeks into one of the busiest,” he said.

“Many venues that host festival events report their three days of strongest exchanges during the event, so the loss of the festival in 2020 was devastating for them.

“We believe events and nonprofits should be able to access support the same way businesses do, but we also need to protect our artists.

“Those who were to perform were not eligible for JobKeeper, although music and concerts were their main source of income.

“We hope that in the future we can find a way to support those in positions like this if this type of situation happens again.”

Echuca-Moama Committee Chair Dean Oberin and Echuca-Moama Accommodation Association Co-Chair Paul Lavars also addressed the committee on Wednesday, June 2.

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