Halls Gap tourism has taken a massive hit as a result of the Victorian Government's latest lockdown and with state's lockdown lifted, businesses are hoping for a quick return of tourists.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the anticipated announcement this morning, following a day without any new COVID-19 cases from almost 40,000 tests, the biggest day of testing on record in Victoria.
This means people are now freely able to travel around the state, with business operators left to hope visitors will return sooner rather than later.
Halls Gap Zoo owner Greg Cullel said despite the lifting of the lockdown he was expecting a quiet period before tourists start to come back to the region.
"I will most certainly will be open tomorrow, we haven't put any staff off because the staff still need to be there," he said.
"I've got $33,000 in wages to pay today, that doesn't come from nowhere, if we are closed or not, our costs don't change so it means now we can actually have people in and start paying off some debt that has added due to the last five days.
"I doubt we will see a rush back, people's confidence is shattered by this and I find it very unlikely there will be a rush back, we might have a reasonable weekend, but the next two days will be as dead as doorknobs.
My expectation is that this will slow everything down for a month or so and then we will get very busy again and my feeling is it will take a little bit to recover from this one because people will be gun shy.
Ararat Motor Inn owner Michael Patel was more optimistic, despite the tough weekend the industry faced.
"We are hoping things will go back to normal and it was just a blip. We're expecting things to bounce back pretty quickly," he said.
"Since the news, we've had a couple of calls of people wanting to make bookings, the lockdown didn't help though. It's an obvious loss of revenue for us because we were fully booked.
"When the news came of the lockdown on Friday I had a "no vacancies" sign up, and that came down pretty quickly.
"It was a significant chunk of revenue lost in the five days.
"There were some people on their way here and had to turn back.
"We were hoping the government would give some incentive to businesses for the loss of revenue but we haven't seen anything.
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