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The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says Gippsland businesses are ideally positioned to benefit from a Federal Government pledge to further grow tourism in regional areas.

Mr Chester has already secured Federal Government funding for major infrastructure works to support further growth of Gippsland’s tourism sector.

“Tourism is particularly important for regional Australia, with 43 cents of every visitor dollar spent in the regions,” Mr Chester said. “We need to keep investing in new infrastructure to give people fresh reasons to visit Gippsland or holiday locally.

“I have already secured funding for projects to further grow local tourism, including $1.5 million for the Jemmy’s Point lookout, $1 million to revitalise the Willow Park campground at Rosedale, and $300,000 for the Metung boardwalk,” Mr Chester said.

“We need to continue investing in infrastructure that will encourage visitors to stay longer in our region and support our local businesses. We also need to bring new visitors here by ensuring we have the facilities they look for in a destination and by appropriately showcasing our region’s natural attractions.

“The Omeo mountain bike trails, the Haunted Hills Bike Park and improvements to our rail trails are examples of how we can invest in infrastructure to appeal to a new type of visitor.”

Mr Chester said improving Gippsland’s major highways was also important for growing the tourism sector.

“We’ve seen major upgrades to the Princes Highway over the past couple of years, but further investment is needed to connect visitors to our major population centres,” Mr Chester said.

“It needs to be easy, safe and enjoyable for travellers to come to Gippsland.  Connectivity in all forms, including mobile phone coverage, adds to the visitor experience and also benefits those of us lucky enough to call Gippsland home.”

The Federal Government’s plan to grow the tourism industry if re-elected includes:
• supporting the tourism industry in regional Australia by providing dedicated funding in future rounds of the Building Better Regions Fund for tourism-related infrastructure;
• a Tourism Icons Package to ensure that Australia’s tourism icons, particularly regional icons, remain world-class experiences and continue to attract high-value tourists;
• providing a $40 million fund to establish and grow Indigenous tourism as part of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy;
• the Beyond 2020 tourism strategy to help Australia’s tourism industry make the most of opportunities provided by fast-growing markets over the next decade;
• continue to support the hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism sector, including 92,373 in regional Australia, through lower taxes, growing the economy and creating jobs; and
• record levels of funding for Tourism Australia over the next four years.

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