The Business Victoria website has crashed shortly after applications for the state government’s $200 regional travel vouchers opened to the public.
Applications opened at 10am on Friday, but “unprecedented demand” left users unable to make an application. They instead faced an ‘unable to process request’ message after clicking the ‘apply now’ button — which was eventually removed from the website entirely.
On Saturday the state government said the high traffic on the voucher registration page had caused “significant issues”, and forced the page offline for extended periods. All 40,000 voucher registration places were taken by mid-evening, “but not before a day of frustration was experienced by many”, the government said.
Under the $28 million Regional Travel Voucher Scheme, announced in the state budget, the government plans to give away thousands of travel vouchers to encourage families to support regional businesses over the summer.
“The vouchers will provide added incentive for Victorians to explore their beautiful backyard and support regional communities hard hit by bushfires, pandemic and other challenges this year,” the state government said on Thursday.
“Vouchers will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.”
On Saturday acting tourism minister Jaclyn Symes announced the total number of vouchers to be given away would increase from 120,000 to 150,000 “as a show of good faith” after the website crashed.
“We recognise the serious inconvenience caused to many people by the website issues yesterday,” she said.
“These extra vouchers will mean even more people have the chance to get out and about in regional Victoria this summer.
“Victorians are clearly excited by the prospect and the extra money poured into communities across Victoria will provide a real boost for businesses and jobs.”
Applications for the first 40,000 vouchers were redeemable for travel between December 12 and January 22. The extra allocation of 30,000 vouchers will go live on the Business Victoria website from midday on Monday, December 14.
The next round of vouchers will become available on January 20 — for travel between January 27 and April 1. The final round will open on March 30, for travel between April 6 and May 31.
Victorian residents aged 18 or over must spend a minimum $400 on accommodation, experiences or tours in regional Victoria during specified travel periods in order to be eligible for a voucher. Applicants can redeem the $200 after they have travelled.
The vouchers are also limited to one per household, and travellers will need to spend at least two nights in paid accommodation to qualify for the scheme.