The Churches is expected to be one of many Greater Shepparton accommodation providers delving into the Victorian Government's new multimillion-dollar support package.
Applications for the Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program opened on Monday and allow eligible operators to claim $225 per night for up to five nights for each room booking cancelled due to the return of stage three COVID-19 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire — provided they refund the booking in full.
The fund will help providers such as The Churches owner Cheryl Hammer who receive cancellations of bookings for the proposed six weeks of the restrictions.
“Two bookings in the past week have had to cancel,” Ms Hammer said.
“We made the decision to close from the 16th of March to the end of May because it was too hard to navigate where people were coming from and the requirements from us.
“Since we have reopened it has been a stop-start scenario with the daily changes to restrictions.”
The fund is capped at $40 million and applications close at the end of stage three restrictions.
Ms Hammer said she felt heartbroken for larger accommodation providers who may have had hundreds of cancellations and had been left with dozens of empty rooms to fill daily.
“I feel deeply for those providers that have put off staff and have had to make serious cost cuts,” she said.
“Its heart-breaking to see that happen.”
Ms Hammer said although it hurt her business financially, she had to be strict about who was staying at her premises.
“It is slim pickings on who can come to the region at the moment,” she said.
“We’ve had to be strict on who is staying with us because it is a serious health issue.
“If we do the right thing now we will be able to sooner go back to our businesses and rebuild.”
State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp said he understood providers were doing it tough.
“This is a critical opportunity for regional accommodation providers to recoup some of their losses — this fund is open now and we’re encouraging those affected to get in early,” he said.
For more information about the fund, visit https://www.business.vic.gov.au/
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