Local businesses welcome Dine and Discover extension

Tumut’s Montreal Theatre, Tumut River Brewing Co and Golf Club have been added to the list of ‘Discover’ venues available under the NSW Government’s $500 million stimulus program, all eligible for the extended deadline which now allows NSW residents to spend their vouchers up until July 31, 2021.

The Discover vouchers haven’t been used as quickly as the Dine vouchers, prompting the state government to extend the deadline to take in the July school holidays.

Previously, the vouchers were set to expire on June 30, but less than half of the 17 million vouchers have been redeemed so far.

Tumut River Brewing Co was a little late to the party, struggling through red tape in the early days, but co-owner Tim Martin said he’s been seeing ‘half a dozen to a dozen’ vouchers a day over the past couple of weeks since the brewery was formally listed as receiving both the Dine and Discover vouchers.

“I think there’s still probably a lot of confusion for what you can and can’t use them for,” he said, adding that it’s been difficult for staff to understand how each type of voucher can be used.

At the brewery, the Dine vouchers are fairly straightforward and can be redeemed for food and beverages. The Discover vouchers can be used for tickets to any of the brewery’s events, but Mr Martin said it’s a little bit complicated because people can’t book tickets online and pay with a voucher, it has to be done in-house.

“Quite a few people used them for last weeks’ beer, jazz and tapas that we had,” he said.

“We’ve got a few other events coming up, so they can’t use them for those.”

To ensure customers are getting the full value of their voucher purchase, Mr Martin said the brewery has been offering ‘increased value’ to stretch the voucher a little further than the usual $10 price of a ticket. 

“It wouldn’t have made practical sense to sell tickets for less than the voucher value,” he said.

“We’re making sure they’re getting to use that voucher rather than have it go to waste.”

That means added options at events and souvenirs as part of the experience.

“We’re providing value for that money, we’re not just increasing the price,” he confirmed.

Overall, he said he was pleased that the deadline was extended, though he wasn’t sure it was having a significant impact on his bottom line. 

“It’s really nice to see them ticking through, but I don’t know if we would have been seeing those people coming through the brewery anyway,” he said, “But it’s free money, I don’t want to complain.”

NSW residents over age 18 are eligible for four $25 vouchers each, with two to be spent on dining and two on cultural or ‘discovering’ events.

Until recently, there were no Tumut businesses listed on the government website to receive the Discover vouchers and only two listed in Tumbarumba (Nest Cinema Cafe Books and Ride Tumbarumba).

There are still no ‘Discover’ venues registered in Adelong, Batlow or Talbingo.

The Discover vouchers have lagged behind Dining since the scheme was launched, with more than 5 million used for food and beverages but only 1.2 million spent at cinemas (the highest in the category). Museums and galleries have received close to 370,000 of the digital tickets.

Figures from the end of May show that the Snowy Valleys have received close to $130,000 worth of vouchers, with an average spend of $30.61 per voucher. 

Statewide, the scheme has generated $357 million worth of sales, with $200 million spent in Sydney and roughly $100 million in regional NSW.

The breakdown shows Sydney City dining facilities have been the clear winners, with more than 1.1 million dining vouchers redeemed in that post code.