Every New South Wales (NSW) resident is set to receive $100 worth of vouchers to spend on dining and entertainment as the state government looks to revive the hardest hit sectors from the COVID-19 recession.
The Out & About scheme, which costs $500 million, will allocate every adult aged over 18 four $25 vouchers to spend at hospitality and entertainment venues.
Two can be redeemed in restaurants, cafes, and clubs and the other two can be used for entertainment activities such as art galleries, cinemas, amusement parks, zoos, and theatres.
The vouchers can’t be spent on retail, alcohol, gambling, or cigarettes. The government is also considering restricting the use of the vouchers to the weekday.
The vouchers will be available in digital format only and can be applied for via the Service NSW app.
Businesses must be registered as COVID safe and must apply with Service NSW to be eligible for the program, according to The Australian.
The voucher scheme will be initially trialled in the Sydney CBD in December before being officially launched statewide in early 2021.
ABC reported on Nov. 16 that NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet expects the plan to get small businesses back up and running post-pandemic while also keep the economy flowing after Christmas.
“We want to encourage people to shop and spend with businesses multiple times, to get out and about and support their local community safely,” Perrottet said.
“The dining and entertainment industries were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and I would encourage people to utilise this scheme once it is up and running and to make sure they spend a bit extra on the way through too,” he said.
The NSW Labor party has said it would back the voucher program but wanted the program implemented by December 1.
“In principle, this is a nice idea and should have occurred months ago,” shadow treasurer Walt Secord said.
“This is a stimulus plan for restaurants, and it’s a small gesture to the community. It’s been a tough year for families and the hospitality sector.”
In Tasmania, the government introduced a similar program called the Make Yourself at Home Travel Voucher initiative to revitalise the tourism industry. Around 20,000 vouchers, worth $5 million (US$3.5 million) in total, were issued to support intrastate travellers in accommodation or a trip in Tasmania.