Free money: where to get your dining and travel vouchers from Australian states and territories

Nell Geraets and Alyx Gorman
·8 min read

In the hope of kick-starting the nation’s economy after the coronavirus-fuelled recession, state and territory governments are offering what is essentially free cash – with conditions – to encourage people to get out and about again.

Free money sounds like a great deal. But how can you get it? How much do you get? And are you even eligible?

Here we answer all those questions, state by state, based on information from government websites.

Vouchers open to all Australians

South Australia

SA’s Great State Vouchers have announced a third round of funds focused specifically on hosted tours and experiences across the state of South Australia.

How much is this voucher worth?
There will be a release of $50, $100 and $200 vouchers available to spend on tourism experiences.

Related: Hiker's calendar: the best places to walk in Australia, every month of the year

When can I get it?
Registration for the Great State Vouchers will open in late April, after the Easter holiday tourism season has passed.

Where can I use these vouchers?
Vendors have to pre-register to be part of this voucher scheme, and more information will be provided when the dates for the next round of the scheme are finalised.

Who is eligible?
Unlike other voucher schemes, this one is open to all Australian residents over 18, however there will be more vouchers available to South Australians than those travelling from interstate.

How can I get it?
Because the dates for the next voucher scheme are yet to be announced, at this stage the best thing to do is sign up for more information on the Great State website.

Read here for more detailed information about SA’s voucher scheme.

ACT (Canberra)

Canberra launched a ChooseCBR discount voucher trial towards the end of 2020. People living in or visiting Canberra received daily digital discounts at participating hospitality, tourism and retail businesses across the city.

How much are the vouchers worth?
Participants received a pack of discount vouchers totalling $40, broken down into two $2.50, one $5, one $10 and one $20 discount, each day. Minimum spends applied for each discount.

Where can I use these vouchers?
The scheme included a range of Canberra businesses, including restaurants, gyms, bars and hairdressers. You can find a list of them on the ChooseCBR website.

Who is eligible?
Anyone over the age of 18 years old who is visiting or living in the ACT was eligible. You didn’t have to be a resident, you just had to be in Canberra the day vouchers were issued.

How can I get it?
People were able to sign up at choosecbr.act.gov.au to create a login to the ChooseCBR portal. Once complete, the home page displayed available discounts. From there, you chose the discounts you wanted to use and it generated a five-digit alpha-numeric code, to show to your cashier at time of payment.

When can I get it?
This scheme’s trial ended on 24 December, but the ACT government says the “full program will launch in early 2021” and is encouraging those interested to sign up for updates.

Read here for more detailed information about Canberra’s discount scheme.

Vouchers open for specific state residents

Queensland

On 7 March, the Queensland state government announced 15,000 $200 “holiday dollars” vouchers for Queensland residents to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

Related: Queensland to hand out 15,000 travel vouchers to help rescue far north's Covid-hit tourism industry

How much are the vouchers worth?
Each voucher is worth $200, which constitutes a discount of “up to 50%” – so you will have to spend at least $200 to utilise them.

Where can I use these vouchers?
The vouchers will be available for “tours, galleries, exhibitions, land, air or water experiences”. Vendors have to opt in to the voucher program, so you will only be able to spend the voucher with companies that have elected to participate.

Who is eligible?
Queensland residents over the age of 18 years old are eligible; 13,000 vouchers went to those who live outside of the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region, while 2,000 vouchers went to locals.

How can I get it?
Registration for this scheme has now closed. If your application was successful, you can find detailed information about how to spend your voucher on the Holiday Dollars website.

For more information, visit the scheme’s FAQ.

Victoria

Business Victoria is offering a Regional Travel Voucher Scheme that covers accommodation, sightseeing entry fees (such as galleries or museums) and tours in regional Victoria, the Yarra Ranges and Mornington Peninsula. A similar scheme, for Melbourne, is forthcoming.

How much is this voucher worth?
Each voucher gives you the right to claim a maximum reimbursement of $200, but only if you spend at least $400 on accommodation, sightseeing or tours in regional Victoria.

Related: The Great Green Way: a seven-day drive down the coast of tropical north Queensland

Who is eligible?
You must be a Victorian resident and over 18 years of age to apply. Each household is limited to one voucher. To receive the $200 reimbursement, you must travel during the eligible travel periods. The first two rounds have now closed, but round three will open on 30 March at 10am.

Round one: 12 December 2020 to 22 January 2021

Round two: 27 January 2021 to 1 April 2021

Round three: 6 April 2021 to 31 May 2021

You must also provide evidence that you have spent at least two nights in paid accommodation.

When can I get it?
The first round of vouchers was released on 11 December at 10am, and vouchers are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Vouchers for the first two rounds were very quickly exhausted, so it pays (literally) to set a reminder for the final round.

A Melbourne travel voucher scheme has also been announced, with more details to come.

How can I get it?
Register online to try to get a voucher. If your application is accepted then you are free to travel – just make sure you save your receipts. After your trip, they’ll send you a link where you can redeem your voucher by showing you spent $400 during your stay. Around 10 days later, the money will be in your account.

Related: Scenic routes: five of the best road trips along Australia's east coast

Read here for more detailed information about Victoria’s travel voucher.

New South Wales

Dine and Discover NSW is a pack of four vouchers, two to be spent on hospitality and two to be spent on cultural experiences.

How much is this voucher worth?
Each eligible person will receive four $25 vouchers. The vouchers cannot be combined and each voucher can only be used once (so try to use as much of the $25 each time!).

When can I get it?
A full rollout is expected in March 2021, but the Service NSW app advises the vouchers are still “getting ready to launch”.

Where can I use these vouchers?
Two of the four vouchers can be used for eating at restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and clubs from Monday to Thursday, excluding public holidays.

Two can be used for entertainment and recreation, including cultural institutions, live music, and arts venues – any day of the week, excluding public holidays. Businesses interested in participating in the program are being encouraged to register their interest.

The vouchers cannot be used for retail, tobacco, alcohol, gambling and accommodation.

Who is eligible?
Right now the program is being trialled in The Rocks and Broken Hill and participation is by invitation only. When the scheme is in full flight, any NSW resident aged 18 or over can participate.

Related: A 2,000km road trip through north-west NSW: hot bore baths, ancient traps and chaotic courtesy buses

How can I get it?
You’ll have to create a MyServiceNSW account to participate in the scheme. You can do this online or through the Service NSW app. Unlike some of the other voucher programs, Dine and Discover has not indicated it will be capping the number of vouchers given out.

Read here for more detailed information about NSW’s voucher.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has entered its third round for the Territory Tourism Voucher scheme. Each person can claim one voucher on accommodation and various activities and experiences in the Northern Territory, and make one bonus claim if they’ve travelled a long distance to use their voucher.

How much is this voucher worth?
It is worth up to $200 and is a dollar-for-dollar investment, so you’ll need to spend the same amount as the voucher covers. The optional bonus claim is a reimbursement of up to $200 when you book something more than 400km from your permanent residence.

Who is eligible?
All Northern Territory residents over 18 are eligible to apply, but there are limited vouchers so you’ll have to get in quickly.

When can I get it?
Round three is currently open, and while the first allocation of vouchers has been exhausted, Tourism NT says more will be released in future.

How can I get it?
Join the waitlist by registering on NT’s Territory Tourism page. Once approved, fill in the online registration form. If your registration is successful, your vouchers will arrive within seven days and you can then use the codes to book online or in store at a Visitor Information Centre.

To redeem the bonus claim, you will need to apply online and provide full contact details including your voucher number, booking confirmation, proof of residency and bank details.

Read here for more detailed information about NT’s voucher scheme.

Tasmania and Western Australia also offered voucher schemes in 2020, but those programs are no longer available.

This piece was originally published on 11 December and was updated to include details of the Queensland voucher program, and remove details of expired programs, on 8 March. It was updated again on 17 March to change details of the Queensland voucher program and update details of the South Australia voucher program.