NSW voucher bonanza to stimulate economy

Border closures have been
Border closures have been "incredibly challenging" for tourism, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says.

Vouchers to boost domestic tourism and freedom to travel to Victoria are on the cards as the NSW premier promises "a very bright summer after a very dark winter".

Dominic Perrottet announced on Wednesday every adult will receive a $50 voucher to spend on a hotel in the state, a day after Victoria relaxed its border rules.

Fully vaccinated people from NSW can now travel to Victoria without the need to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19.

The $250 million voucher scheme - called Stay and Rediscover - builds on the success of the state's recently expanded Dine and Discover program and is part of a broader package designed to help the state's tourism industry after months of lockdown.

"With international borders closed, it has been incredibly challenging for accommodation, for tourism operators," the premier told reporters.

"What we are doing is getting in front ... we know that the borders will be open and we want to be ahead of the curve."

Airlines are also set to benefit from the $530 million tourism and events support package, which includes a $60 million aviation attraction fund.

All up, international airlines will have access to a pool of $120 million after Sydney Airport announced it would dollar-match the government's funding.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said Australia's closed borders had prompted airlines to make commercial decisions to avoid Sydney.

He wants to lure them back by offsetting the costs of putting Sydney back on the map.

"We want those airlines that used to fly to Sydney regularly coming back home again," he said.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said 18 international airlines had stopped flying to Sydney this year.

"The NSW government's aviation attraction fund will make sure Sydney is being talked about in airline boardrooms from Doha to Dallas," he said in a statement.

Mr Perrottet last week announced that NSW would ditch hotel quarantine and home-bound isolation for international arrivals.

But just hours later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison poured cold water on the idea that NSW would be welcoming back international tourists, saying the federal government wouldn't issue those visas in the immediate future.

Mr Perrottet said he hoped tourism would return this year, denying he'd jumped the gun.

"NSW is open for business, open for tourism and the faster we work, the faster we move the better the opportunities," he said.

The tourism and events package also includes $150 million to restart major events across the state, a $25 million support fund for music festivals, $50 million to revitalise the Sydney CBD, and funding for business events, cancelled events, and recovery marketing.

The state will also soon see the resumption of non-urgent elective surgery after a two-month hiatus.

NSW Health says high vaccination rates and falling case numbers mean it can safely give the green light to overnight elective surgery, as COVID-19 case numbers continue their steady decline.

Surgeries will be capped at 75 per cent capacity at public and private facilities within Greater Sydney, including the Nepean Blue Mountains region from Monday.

Day surgery returned on October 5 across both public and private systems.

Non-urgent elective surgery was not generally suspended outside Greater Sydney.

A total of 283 new locally acquired cases and seven deaths were announced on Wednesday

The Hunter New England Local Health District continues to report a surge, with 62 of the new cases diagnosed there.

There are 552 people in NSW hospitals with COVID, 124 of them in ICU.

Australian Associated Press