The NSW government is set to extend its Dine and Discovery scheme after learning thousands of vouchers had gone unclaimed just weeks before they were due to expire.
The vouchers are accessible through the Service NSW app and provide all residents with $100 each, split into four $25 vouchers – two for dining and two for discovery.
They were due to expire on June 30 but the deadline will be extended until the end of July, covering the upcoming school holiday period in a welcome boost for parents.
About 4.2 million NSW residents have downloaded the vouchers (totalling 16.9 million vouchers) since they launched in March.
But less than half of these have been used. More than five million have been redeemed on food and beverage, 1.2 million in movie theatres and close to 370,000 on heritage activities.
“More than $105 million has been spent directly in registered businesses regionally compared to almost $200 million in establishments in Sydney,” Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said.
In March, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet unveiled the rollout in a bid to boost the struggling tourism and hospitality sectors which have suffered during the pandemic.
“This is helping to fire up our economy. It’s not just boosting revenue for businesses, it’s bringing a fresh clientele through their doors eager to try a new eatery or exciting activity,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
NCA NewsWire last month revealed movie snacks, Hungry Jack’s burgers and fried chicken from KFC were the top choices for residents using government restaurant vouchers to pay for food.
At the time NSW shadow treasurer Walt Secord said there was a “disproportionate” number of fast-food places on the top 10 list and he thought it was because the state government had made it too difficult for smaller restaurants to take part.
“The big corporates had the technology, staff and resources to hoover up the Dine and Discover vouchers, but family operations struggled,” Mr Secord said.
“I don’t begrudge the KFCs and the Hungry Jacks restaurants, but a tiny family Indian restaurant in Parramatta just couldn’t fight their way through the jungle of red tape.”
The rest of the top ten was mostly populated with pubs, including chain The Wests Group.
The Fiddler Hotel in Rouse Hill in western Sydney came in sixth place. The pub, owned by property developer Lewis Land Group, offers diners a complimentary food voucher worth $25 for every Dine and Discover voucher used, meaning the value would be doubled.
The US-inspired diner chain Pancakes on the Rocks came in seventh place, followed by pub chain Bavarian Beerhaus.
Country pub Camden Valley Inn located outside Campbelltown took ninth spot, while Bankstown Sports Club rounded out the top 10.
TOP 10 “DINE” BUSINESSES
- Hoyts Theatres
- Event Cinemas
- Hungry Jacks
- The Wests Group Australia
- The Fiddler Hotel
- Pancakes on the Rocks
- The Bavarian Beerhaus
- Camden Valley Inn
- Bankstown Sports Club