Damage Control – Incentives to visit King Island

KING Island’s Covid outbreak is officially over as the Tasmanian Government moves to repair some of the damage done by its public health travel advisory earlier this year.

The Government is poised to announce a new incentive program to encourage more people to visit King Island and spend more while they are there.

It’s likely to be similar to voucher schemes that have run previously reimbursing travellers for part of their expenses.

The King Island program is part of the Government’s belated response to business concerns over mass cancellations following the Covid outbreak at the start of the year.

Public Health urged people to stay away from King Island as it dealt with Coronavirus cases and businesses say they’ve lost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in forward bookings and lost earning as a result.

There have been 142 Covid cases in total linked to King Island since December 29.There are currently three active cases.

The Department of Health said the identification of new cases had slowed in the past week, suggesting that the initial outbreak on King Island was over.

Premier Peter Gutwein acknowledged that King Island had faced some challenges recently and said as a result the Government was finalising a package to kickstart visitation on the island.

“Later this week we will be announcing the details of a new incentive program that will focus on driving more visitors and increasing spending on the island, providing further sup-port to the King Island economy,” Mr Gutwein said.
“This new program will be avail-able to Tasmanian and interstate travellers, with this support to ensure more visitors are engaging in the incredible experiences and hospitality the island has to offer.”

Tourism Tasmania is also working with King Island Tourism and the local council to deliver a new targeted marketing campaign of up to $100,000 in value.

Mr Gutwein said this would focus on both the Tasmanian and interstate markets to encourage travel to the island.

“We have always said that we will do more to provide support for our economy where that is needed,” he said.
“These announcements are yet another example of this commitment as King Island continues to recover from the Covid out-break earlier this year.”

Flights between Hobart and King Island will also continue to be underwritten by the State Government until the end of the year.

The Government had committed $1 million to underwrite flights between Hobart and the Bass Strait islands.

The arrangement was due to end in March.

However, Mr Gutwein said there was capacity to continue the arrangement until the end of the year.

“The services have been a roaring success and have given more Tasmanians the ability to explore these unique parts of our special island State,” he said.
“Both the airline and the Government embarked on this journey with the goal of establishing and then growing the services to the point where they would be sustainable.”

King Island Tourism president Adam Hely said while welcome, the incentives were not enough to help those who had suffered losses in recent months.

“I am excited that the government has created incentives to help increase travel to King Island,” Mr Hely said.
“While the stimulus is looking to future bookings, when looking at the individual cases, the solution is not assisting businesses which have been detrimentally effected by the travel advisory.”

Mayor Julie Arnold also believes more is needed and said she continued to push the case for greater support.

“I am still in discussions with the Premier and the council has made it clear to the government what King Island needs,” Ms Arnold said.

King Island Chamber of Commerce president Rose Hallet is backing the mayor.

“The chamber is very supportive of what the mayor is doing,” Ms Hallet said.

The latest support initiatives followed the Government’s announcement it would double financial help for Covid affected businesses to $10,000 as part of Round Two of the Impact Support Program.

Some King Island businesses have not bothered applying to Round One funding as they have found it too difficult, too costly to obtain the required information given the level of payment or were not eligible as they were new businesses not trading in the beginning of 2020/21 financial year.

Businesses that received assistance through Round One of the program may still be eligible to apply under Round Two.

Funding is available to busi-nesses that have experienced a reduction in business due to Covid-19, this time for the period 15 January 2022 to 14 February 2022.

This is consistent with the first round of the program which is for support for the month up to 14 January 2022.

Payments of between $1000 and $5000 will also be available to businesses that experienced an unavoidable loss of perishable goods because they have had to close for seven days or more.

Payments will be tiered according to business turnover.

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