Victorians hit the road for the long weekend
FOR half a century, Lorraine Golightly, owner of BIG4 Beacon Resort Queenscliff, has welcomed thousands of holidaymakers through the gates. For the first time in two months, they returned this long weekend.
Executive director of Tourism Geelong and The Bellarine Brett Ince said as restrictions lifted, Victorians hit the roads.
“We understand a number of accommodation providers, particularly holiday parks have seen strong bookings over the long weekend. There were still some availabilities in our hotel accommodation across the region (which might’ve attracted last minute bookings).
“Part of that, coming out of isolation there was potentially going to be a lot of camping and caravanning holidays in the first instance.”
Mr Ince said people were wanting to get out of the house and the long weekend was the first weekend they could do so.
“This was the first weekend they could connect with others, they’re also considering the region from a nature and recreation point of view; our natural assets like beaches and in the broader region, the You Yangs.”
With the ramifications of coronavirus still affecting where people could go, Mr Ince said the Geelong and Bellarine was a great option for a “post-isolation trip”.
“There’s a level of safety people feel being close to home, particularly the Melbourne market who can come down here and are still only an hour away.”
As businesses did their best to re-open adhering to the imposed guidelines, he said it was important customers and visitors booked ahead and showed understanding.
“It’s important, as people begin taking road trips and mini-breaks, they book ahead at restaurants or cafes and make sure they consider the new guidelines and are respectful to business owners.
“It’s not an easy time and it’s a different time for businesses to be operating. There’s a higher demand on eateries who are unable to take several large bookings at once.”
For Ms Golightly, Beacon Resort was fortunate enough with the help of government assistance to keep staff on during the lockdown.
“We did a lot of landscaping and maintenance and the operations side has been huge; changing everything to contactless, making sure we have declarations for guests to sign – there’s been a lot to do.
“I’ve been running Beacon for 50 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this, I don’t think anyone has. Normally you can control your own destiny but this was completely out of our control. It’s been horrible to not have people staying here.
“Since the restrictions lifted, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and we’re finding the average length of stay has almost doubled. People can’t go on their overseas trips, so they’re staying longer.”
Mr Ince said now was an important time to support local business and the tourism industry by inviting family and friends down to the region.
“It’s too hard to tell at the minute the extent of the impact corona has had on the industry, but once the government assistance stops, it will be clearer.
“Without the large-scale events happening in the region or international visitors, it’s important we transition to different markets including domestic short breaks, visiting family and friends or inviting them down to recharge and reconnect.”