City Deal vital to tourism rebuild post-COVID

Economic Development Pillar

COVID-19 has hit the G21 region’s economy hard, but no section has been harder hit than the tourism sector.

Thanks to the recently signed City Deal for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road few regions are better positioned with a pipeline of tourism-related infrastructure projects to support long-term recovery of tourism and construction.

Recent figures released by Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine from a survey it conducted in April show the extent of the devastation to the local tourism sector.

The survey of operators of accommodation, hospitality and tourism businesses in the region showed half the respondents had closed due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Of those still operating, 43 percent said they were experiencing less than 10 percent of their usual trade.  About 24 percent said they had between 10 and 30 percent of their usual trade.  Only 1 percent were getting 80 to 100 percent of the usual trade.

Inevitably the return to full tourism trade within the region will take time.  As the survey shows, sadly, some businesses will not reopen.

However, across the board, our region is well positioned with both the natural assets to attract visitors back and existing or planned visitor infrastructure to rebuild our industry.

Avalon Airport is ready to reopen when permitted and is already positioning to be part of new trans-Tasman flights when they resume.  It is also installing world-leading touch-less check-in systems to improve passenger safety post-COVID-19.

The $370 million City Deal for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road will play a massive role in our region’s economic recovery.

The infrastructure and projects delivered through the City Deal will be critical to rebuilding the visitor economy, generating local employment and encouraging people to visit the G21 region.

City Deal projects include construction of a $171 million Convention and Exhibition Centre on Deakin University’s Geelong Waterfront campus car park, the Revitalising Central Geelong Action Plan and a range of tourism infrastructure projects.

The City Deal includes funding towards the Geelong Waterfront Safe Harbour project, building on its existing government and private investment.

The safe harbour project will transform and activate the entire precinct, improving connectivity and public access to the waterfront, supporting tourism and community activities, ensuring year-round visitation to the waterfront, and providing support for major events that contribute to the local economy.

The Australian and Victorian governments are jointly investing $108 million to deliver priority projects under Stage Two of the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan.  That plan includes much needed infrastructure upgrades along the Great Ocean Road to better accommodate the needs of visitation to the area.

Under the City Deal the Australian Government is investing $10 million towards the construction of a new ferry terminal at Queenscliff to improve ferry services crossing the heads of Port Phillip Bay.

The project will deliver modern facilities, improved access, and new opportunities for retail developments, boosting passenger numbers and creating new opportunities in the local economy.

G21 advocated strongly to Canberra and Spring Street over many years for the region to get a City Deal.

The City Deal was finally announced in March 2019 as a “10-year plan to revitalise Geelong and unlock the potential of the Great Ocean Road visitor economy”.

Never has a plan to revitalise the region’s visitor economy been more important, nor could it be better timed.

G21 is proud to have played an important role in bringing the City Deal to reality.