The Northern Territory Government is spending big to bolster tourism in the wake of the bushfire crisis and the coronavirus outbreak.
Two million dollars will be poured into the tourism industry as part of an Immediate Resilience Plan and the government is partnering with the Caravan Industry Association of Australia.
The 'great migration' of grey nomads is just a few months away, but fears of a lull are front and centre for many businesses in the industry.
Caravans first began appearing in April last year with retirees escaping the southern winter. But as the year progressed, some long-term residents voiced concerns the stop-over town was suffering from an ongoing decrease in visitors.
The NT Government has said both the fires and the virus outbreak are already having significant impacts ahead of the peak tourism season, and is diving in head first to minimise the impact.
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia is the peak national body for the caravanning and camping industry in Australia.
Partnering with the government, a program called Key to the NT is specifically targeting the interstate market of grey nomads, which make up the bulk of Katherine's dry season tourism.
Bringing in local and national tourism businesses the government is hoping to promote NT holiday incentives including special stay/pay offers, discounted entry fees and 2-for-1 offers.
"Our tourism industry is critical to the Northern Territory economy, supporting 17,100 direct and indirect jobs and thousands of small to medium local businesses," acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Eva Lawler said.
The Government is also addressing business survival, revival and growth with a new intensive business support program opening on March 1 called Tourism Fast Track.
It is part of the government's $2 Million Immediate Tourism Resilience Plan and will focus on lowering business expenditure and increasing revenue through confidential support.
Tourism businesses will receive a minimum of five one-on-one meetings with an experienced tourism sector business consultant.
An additional four months of support will also be provided to assist with strategic implementation and business growth.
"The Tourism Fast Track program is part of the Territory Labor Government's $2 million Immediate Tourism Resilience Plan to minimise the impact on our tourism industry of the Australian bushfires and the coronavirus travel restrictions, and to maintain momentum in attracting more visitors to the NT," Ms Lawler said.
"This new program is available to tourism businesses seeking support due to financial hardships as a result of the current environment."
Phillip Loader from the Business Enterprise Centre said the NT's Tourism industry is in the firing line for serious impact.
"The two high profile internationally publicised events of the Australian bushfires and the coronavirus have started to seriously impact the NT tourism sector, with a further decline in tourist numbers expected to have a damaging effect upon the tourism sector," he said.
"BEC NT is absolutely on board with assisting tourism businesses to reduce the effects of what we hope will be a short-term high, impact situation.
"The intensive business support program will assist with impact reduction, business survival and business revival.
"Our team is ready to roll out our program to businesses as soon as possible."
To access this initiative, businesses can speak with a Tourism NT Business Enterprise Consultant for an initial assessment. To find out more about the resilience plan or the Key to the NT program, head to the website here.
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