By Graeme Kemlo

It was applauded by the tourism industry when Victoria announced in November that $200 Travel vouchers would be available to an applicant household from December 11, 2020.  However, the voucher claim website crashed last Friday. And on Monday at noon when the website was reinstated all 70,000 vouchers, which were available on a first-come-first-served basis, were gone in about 30 minutes.

Which is great for hospitality businesses looking for a kickstart, but a lot of Victorian households are upset at missing out. There were complaints on social media, but the government is offering another round on January 20, 2021.

The fine print has also annoyed some. The vouchers can be spent on accommodation, tourism attractions or regional tours to regions across the state, including the nearby Yarra Valley, the Dandenongs and the Mornington Peninsula. A household can only apply once based on the primary residence of a drivers licence holder, and receive one voucher under the scheme. But those who do get a voucher will need to spend at least $400 and provide receipts to be eligible to claim a $200 reimbursement. They will not cover fuel, groceries or alcohol unless part of a brewery or distillery tasting tour, and it would not cover food and drink unless part of a winery tour. All of which has some citizens saying they cannot afford to use it.

Meanwhile Victoria’s unblemished recent record of no infections and no deaths from COVID was tarnished with six active cases of infection among returned citizens in hotel quarantine. There have been no locally acquired infections since October.

Mandatory hotel quarantine resumed in Victoria on December 7, 2020. Chief health officer professor Brett Sutton said it was expected there would be infected travellers among the average 180 residents returning every day until Christmas.

Previously it was reported that one in 100 returning travellers were shown to have the virus during their quarantine period. And prof Sutton said a similar rate of infection was likely again, depending on the countries from which they had travelled.