Tourism industry & local updates for the Great Ocean Road region

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 Updates & Advice

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What happens if my domestic clients choose to cancel due to COVID-19? Can I claim cancellation costs?

– as at 20 March 2020

This advice has been approved by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

To answer this question, it is useful to think of two scenarios. In the first example, the health authorities have issued explicit advice, under the State of Emergency declaration, restricting non-essential travel to your area. Such an instance would trigger a ‘frustrated contract’ under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, which means it is impossible to perform or carry out a contract due to events beyond all parties’ control.

In this scenario, the customer would be entitled to a refund of any payments already made. However, the law may also entitle you to any reasonable expenses you incurred before the customer cancelled.

If there are no restrictions on domestic travel and your business is still operating, the contract is still valid and your cancellation policy can be applied.

The best solution in both these circumstances is to talk to the customer to negotiate alternative arrangements. For example, hold the deposit over to be used at a different time. This is a frequently used strategy by tourism operators who have been through a crisis – a postponement or a deferment of a booking means you can hold onto the deposit at a time when every dollar counts.

This advice should be read in conjunction with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s online factsheet “When customers cancel – guidance for tourism businesses”



What’s Happening Locally

  • 21/3/20 – Port Fairy Visitor Information Centre has temporarily converted its over-the-counter service to a phone and online service. Our friendly customer service staff are currently available to assist you from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week. All VIC contact info here.
  • 20/3/20 – Great Ocean Road Running Festival postponed until 22-23 August 2020. Read more.
  • 20/3/20 – Warrnambool City Council has taken the decision to close to the public the Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre and Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village (including Night Show) effective 5pm Friday 20th March. The closure will be subject to a review in a fortnight (April 3).
  • 19/3/20 – The Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre and lookouts will be closed to visitors immediately. The carpark and toilets at the Visitor Centre will remain open. Access to the Great Ocean Road and other visitor attractions are currently unaffected.
  • 16/3/20 – Until further notice, Glenelg Shire Council are transitioning over the counter visitor servicing to phone, email and digital services.
  • 14/3/20 – The Surf Coast Shire’s Visitor Information Centre services in Torquay, Lorne, Winchelsea and Anglesea will transition from over-the-counter to phone, email and website-based services. You can read the official media release here.


Webinars & Support 

We have put together a free Business Resource Hub, created for businesses like you within our Great Ocean Road region. We want to help support you through this downtime as best we can.
Access the Business Resource Hub

Weekly Tourism Webinar  – Friday 3 April at 2pm – run by Tourism Australia. This week, the Prime Minister will join the webinar to give the tourism sector a direct update on the current state of play and his perspective. This will be followed by senior representatives from the Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia to talk about some of the support available for individuals and businesses.
Register here (places limited)

Free weekly coaching:  Surviving COVID-19 for Hospitality Businesses – run by AVTES
Register here

Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.
More info here


How to keep informed via official sources


Latest news: You can keep up-to-date with the latest news on the Coronavirus from the Australian Government’s Department of Health, including updated health warnings at:

Latest travel advice: The latest travel advice being provided by the WHO can be read here:

Phone for more info: For more information call the Public Health Information Line on 1800 044 599 or contact your state public health agency  1300 651 160




Need to talk to someone?

Our General Manager, Liz Price, is available during these challenging times and welcomes you to get in touch if needed at or on 0448 385 176