Last month, it was announced that the NSW Government had officially rolled out their Dine & Discover vouchers, after announcing the scheme in November of last year. Instead of one $100 voucher, it was distributed in four $25 vouchers, two for food use (dine) and two for entertainment and tourism venues (the discover part).
And now, a month on, it seems that there are a plethora of problems with the scheme — well, at least three.
The first issue? The vouchers are too ‘city-centric’. According to ABC Central West, regional communities are claiming Dine & Discover “does not help business in the bush” as no businesses in regional towns, or even regional centres, are part of the program.
Patrons find they can’t inject the funds into their small towns, therefore losing an opportunity to boost local business.
In more popular regional towns like Orange, it’s difficult to find options to spend the Discover voucher, as they’re outnumbered by hospitality ventures — 66 of the latter, compared to only eight of the former.
The second issue? That even in larger cities, small businesses aren’t the ones profiting; vouchers, instead, are being spent at fast-food giants. According to 9News, companies like McDonald’s, Oporto and KFC are seeing the vouchers spent in their stores — even though the program was touted to encourage people to support local.
Small business owners aren’t happy with the move, calling the system unfair. Many of these owners saw their business plunge, whilst the multinational recorded “large spikes in profits”.
And the third issue? With less than two and a half months to go, fewer than 10% of the Dine & Discover vouchers have been redeemed, according to ABC News.
Calls by the NSW opposition are being made to extend the program beyond the end of June, especially as the scheme is worth $500 million and designed to stimulate the state’s dining and entertainment sectors.
If you’re looking to apply for Dine & Discover NSW vouchers — and it appears only just over half of NSW residents have — you can do so here.