MELBOURNE, AAP – Tourism and business industry groups have hailed a plan to coax visitors back into downtown Melbourne with meal rebates up to $150 as part of a $44 million recovery package.

The Victorian government and City of Melbourne will jointly fund initiatives to bring the city centre back to life after its sixth COVID-19 lockdown, including a $5 million midweek dining rebate scheme.

From November 15, diners can get up to $150 off their bills at food-serving restaurants, cafes and bars in the city between Monday and Thursday.

More than 200,000 rebates will be up for grabs, with refunds finalised within five business days of diners making a claim.

Another $10.4 million will be dished out to help businesses trade outdoors and at night, $15.7 million to boost the city’s events calendar, $14 million to revitalise public areas and $3.6 million for an enhanced business concierge service.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the $44 million package, part of a wider $200 million city revitalisation fund, was designed to help Melbourne recapture its vibrant food, wine and coffee culture.

“It’s all about recovering what we lost,” he told reporters on Sunday.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the city’s midweek foot traffic remained down 50 per cent but another round of the dining rebates would spur a rebound, along with bringing forward the city’s Christmas festivities by two weeks.

Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani said Melbourne had shouldered 85 per cent of overall tourism losses in the state this year and the package would reactivate the city.

“For Victoria to fully recover, we need to see strong recovery in our capital city,” Ms Mariani said.

Paul Guerra, head of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the cash injection would bring the city back to life.

“Businesses have done it tough over the past 20 months,” he said.

“This is the stimulus they’ve been looking forward to ensure they not only welcome people back but they welcome people back day and night.”

But opposition gaming and liquor regulation spokeswoman Steph Ryan said the discounted meals did not address “chronic” staff shortages in the industry, and renewed calls for sign-on bonuses for new hospitality workers.

Victoria on Sunday recorded 1173 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths.