Strong hotel occupancy rates in the ACT have been heralded by the ACT government as a sign its efforts to attract domestic tourists are working.
Occupancy levels in Canberra's commercial accommodation was 73.2 per cent in April, above the national rate of 60.7 per cent, data collected by the global STR group shows.
The territory's occupancy has recovered from a low of 13.7 per cent in April last year, when COVID-19 public health restrictions shut down the bulk of the travel industry.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT government's investment in the tourism industry was working to attract more visitors to the region.
"The ACT government is investing in our visitor economy to support economic development, create opportunities for tourism businesses to drive demand, develop new initiatives and create jobs," Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr said 15 businesses had received funding as part of a Covid-safe co-investment program, with government and operator investment worth more than $2 million.
"Projects range from dining domes to cellar door outdoor seating and new shuttle bus services through to development of new products like a night safari at the National Zoo & Aquarium and an ice age exhibit at the National Dinosaur Museum," Mr Barr said.
The ACT government has contributed $750,000 from the fund, which funded projects that attracted industry investment of $1.95 million.
The ACT government announced extra funding for Visit Canberra's "More Than" campaign in the February budget.
The campaign is designed to entice interstate travellers to "get to know the real Canberra". Around 90 per cent of ACT visitors were domestic travellers before the international border was closed.
Mr Barr said the ACT had direct flights to every capital city in the country for the first time in more than a decade.
"Our region is now being serviced by the most extensive domestic aviation network in our history, and competition between airlines is making it cheaper and easier to visit Canberra," he said.
Fierce competition has broken out amongairlines competing for fares in and out of Canberra, with Qantas and Virgin slashing ticket prices for Melbourne flights a day after Rex Airlines introduced $69 seats.
The Canberra Region Tourism Awards will also return this year, with nominations opening in a further sign of the tourism sector's recovery since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Canberra Region Tourism Council chief executive Dr Naomi Dale said the award categories would be changed to recognise the challenges of operating during the pandemic, and would include extra support for entrants.
"We're so proud of the effort and innovation from our tourism industry operators, they are staying informed, meeting customer needs, and running business as usual as best they can," Dr Dale said.
"We encourage all tourism businesses to consider entering the awards this year as an opportunity to celebrate your own resilience, success and stories."
Mr Barr said he looked forward to tourism operators being recognised.
The winners of the awards will be announced at an event later this year.
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