Access to 'critical capital' opens to Tasmanian tourism businesses

GOVERNMENT LOANS: The new low-interest loan scheme could assist accommodation providers in Northern Tasmania, including areas near the Overland Track. PIcture: Scott Gelston
GOVERNMENT LOANS: The new low-interest loan scheme could assist accommodation providers in Northern Tasmania, including areas near the Overland Track. PIcture: Scott Gelston

Regional tourist accommodation operators will have access to “critical capital” to make their businesses more attractive to visitors, Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive officer Chris Griffin says.

Griffin’s comments followed Premier Will Hodgman’s announcement of a new $20 million low-interest loan scheme for the accommodation industry on Wednesday.

Concessional loans of between $50,000 and $1.5 million will be available to eligible businesses with an interest rate of 3.26 per cent.

RELATED STORIES: $20 million tourism sector loan fund launched

Griffin said the loan scheme enabled Northern Tasmania’s small and middle-sized tourism operators to access “critical capital” to refurbish or upgrade accommodation facilities.

“It’s absolutely fabulous.”

He hoped businesses would consider their options as the fund would likely see a flood of applications soon, he said.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Michael Bailey said the initiative would help alleviate a problem many businesses had when they approached traditional money-lenders as many did not fully account how improvements would offset a loan.

He anticipated the $20 million would be used quickly, but said he hoped it would provide incentive for the government to increase the amount.

“The [loan] money comes back in, so it’s not lost,” Mr Bailey said.

“It’s a good model offering support to the businesses of Tasmania.”

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Jan Davis backed the loans scheme.

“It helps those prepared to help themselves,” Ms Davis said.

She said she would rather see businesses given the option to apply for low-interest loans than individual government grants.

A Government spokesman said successful businesses would have up to five years to repay the loan, although loan terms of up to 10 years might be considered.

Applications can be provided once a business’ eligibility was confirmed by contacting Business Tasmania on 1800 440 026.

To apply, applicants must own a commercial Tasmanian tourism accommodation business that provides short-term accommodation and is either an accredited tourism business or has three or more rooms available if it is located in a regional or suburban area, he said.

It needed to have five or more rooms available to hire if it is located in a city’s CBD.

“All applicants must demonstrate that the project will improve occupancy levels of the establishment or improve service and quality of offering to visitors.”