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Gold Coast digs deep to help local business through 'darkest days'

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The Gold Coast will add “Local Dollars” to the state’s existing “Holiday Dollars” program to stimulate spending in the lockdown-ravaged tourism capital.

 

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The city today finalised a $3 million ‘buy local/play local’ magic dollar package for Gold Coast residents.

It includes up to 60,000 vouchers valued at $50 each that residents are able to spend across thousands of local businesses.

The $50 vouchers will be activated when a local makes a purchase of $100 or more, effectively giving them a 50 percent discount on dining, accommodation, tours, art experiences or retail shopping.

“I’m calling it Local Dollars because we want to spend locally,” Mayor Tom Tate said.

“What it means is that it’s not just spending on rides and the like, it’s spending on retail.”

He said Gold Coast businesses urgently need support given the key interstate markets of Sydney and Melbourne remain locked out, causing the Gold Coast’s trickle of tourists to dry up.

Destination Gold Coast, the city’s peak tourism body, will manage the roll out of the program that will start within two weeks.

The Local Dollars program will overlap the State Government’s 30,000 Holiday Dollars tourism vouchers reward scheme to entice visitors to the Gold Coast that was released in June.

Under that stimulus package, Destination Gold Coast also delivered 30,000 vouchers worth $100 each to Queenslanders that could be redeemed on the Coast.

It gives Gold Coasters access to two sources of free cash to support struggling businesses, including 46,000 tourism businesses that face a dire fate as persistent lockdowns across the country continue to restrict travel.

It comes a week after Tate also wrote to Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg urging the federal government to consider urgent relief got the tourism and aviation sectors.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the need for further stimulus was vital with Gold Coast tourism operators facing their “darkest days” since the pandemic started.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick also today released a new $47.75 million tourism and hospitality support package designed to help businesses crushed by the virus and lockdown restrictions.

Under the new State package, eligible businesses will be able to defer payroll tax payments for six months, while some tourism and liquor licensing fees will also be able to be deferred, refunded or waived.

According to a Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland survey, released on Monday, business confidence in the June quarter declined for the first time since March 2020.

More than 40 per cent of businesses have been forced to contribute their own personal funds to stay afloat – more than $110,000 on average – with a similar proportion reporting mental health issues among staff or owners.

As part of the Council package, Gold Coast ratepayers will also be able to enter flexible payment arrangements where no penalty interest will apply, and any new rate recovery action will be suspended until 31 January 2022.

The city also introduced opened City Community centres to one month of free hire for small businesses, community groups and essential service hirers, and waived permit fees for commercial vessels.

It also extended earlier relief measures including waiving al fresco dining fees for restaurants, waiving interest on outstanding fees such as film applications and development applications, and offering flexible payment plans for water and rates accounts.

 

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