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Fund to boost tourism to the Illawarra

THE $48.5 million Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund will encourage Australian and overseas visitors to stay longer and return to regional areas like the Illawarra and Southern Highlands, says Federal Cunningham MP Sharon Bird.

“The fund will completely makeover Australia’s $35 billion tourism industry”, Ms Bird said.

“Industry-matching funding will be available to assist regional businesses upgrade their accommodation and build new tourism attractions, which could bring thousands more visitors to our region every year.”

Federal MP for Throsby Stephen Jones said that the program will help boost innovation and quality in the local tourism industry.

“This fund is about matching the beauty of our region with our tourism facilities”, he said.

“A major focus of this program will be on improving the quality of accommodation and attractions in regional areas like the Illawarra so that the tourism facilities match the beauty of Australia’s regions”, Mr Jones said.

Ms Bird said tourism is a vital part of the economy and is the largest services export and employing almost one million Australians.

“With almost 50 cents in every tourism dollar spent in regional areas, this fund will help secure jobs and ensure Australia remains a competitive destination for both domestic and international visitors,” she said.

Competitive, merits based grants are open for applications from today for funding amounts of between $50,000 and $250,000 matched dollar for dollar taking the total investment to almost $100 million.

This fund builds on the Government’s T-QUAL Grants program which has delivered over $20 million to tourism operators such as the Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council, the new exhibit for Sumatran Tigers at Symbio Wildlife Park and Australia’s first national tourism accreditation scheme, the T-QUAL Tick.

Tourism operators outside metropolitan areas are eligible to apply for grants until December 14.  Application forms, program guidelines, frequently asked questions and YouTube videos are available on www.ret.gov.au/tirfgrants.

Further information is available for applicants on the TIRF Grants Hotline on (02) 6243 7604.

About Mick Roberts

A newspaper journalist, writer and local historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in the Sydney and Illawarra regions of NSW for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides authoring a number of history books, Mick has owned and operated several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and is now with Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.

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