A $5 million campaign to preserve the heritage of country hotels has been launched by the Federal Government.
Under the Rural and Regional Historic Hotels Program, hotels without poker machines can apply for grants of between $10,000 and $100,000 to help restore, preserve or rejuvenate pubs with local or historic significance.
Launching the program m, Environment and Heritage parliamentary secretary Dr Sharman Stone said 50 per cent cash or in-kind matching contribution was expected from the hotel owners.
"The program will fund the restoration and preservation works to the historic features or attributes of the hotel, where the work will bring tourism and other benefits to the local community," she said.
Pubs with pokie machines have been excluded from the scheme as they have alternative revenue sources to pubs without the gaming machines.
"Pubs that have only food and beverage sales to survive on find it hard enough to support their day to day operations," Australian Hotels Association national president Peter Burnett said. "This funding will help them invest in some much needed capital works on their historic properties."
Priority will go to those hotels with the highest historical significance and those projects with strong social, economic and regional benefits.
Applications for alterations, moveable objects (such as photographic collections), acquisitions, equipment and operational expenses are not eligible.
Dr Stone said the program would not be limited to "architectural gems", but would be made available to hotels which were more than 50 years old, or had a historic value for the local town, whether that historical value was economic or social.
The Government estimates 200-300 country pubs will be eligible for the program.
"It's all about giving those country pubs a fresh lease of life," she said.
"In many country areas the pub is the centre of community action. We want to make sure the pub has a bit of extra help to help it survive in the long run."