Business swells following return of surf classic

April 29, 2022 BY

Commerce Torquay president Jeff Crow. Photo: KYLIE OLIVER

LOCAL business leaders have celebrated a “reawakening” of Torquay after a bumper holiday period which included the return of the iconic Rip Curl Bells Beach Pro.

The long-running surfing event was one of the most conspicuous absences from the region’s event calendar during the past two years, when COVID-19 forced its first cancellations since its inception in 1961.

But the Easter classic returned in full force this month and created a boom weekend for local businesses, who say they’re cautiously optimistic the worst of the pandemic is behind the region’s tourism-reliant economy.

Bells Beach Brewing co-owner and Commerce Torquay president Jeff Crow said local businesses were blown away with the results of the Bells-Easter weekend extravaganza, which was sandwiched between two weeks of school holiday traffic for Torquay.

“It didn’t just meet expectations, it beat the expectations,” Mr Crow said.

“Business owners from around town are mainly in the hospitality industry, and everyone had a cracking weekend.

“A couple of people in the restaurants around town reckon their Saturday night was one of the biggest nights they’ve had.

“I think this was a bit better because of the spirit, having so many people and having the surfing back in town. It was a positive vibe with everyone.”

Accommodation providers also reaped the rewards of a surge in travel as rooms filled up during the busy period.

“Torquay was abuzz and it’s great to see people out and about enjoying the Surf Coast,” RACV Torquay resort manager Dean Newell said.

“There’s many businesses that really needed this weekend to kickstart them back into good trading.”

Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism general manager Liz Price said the bumper weekend provided a welcome boost to round off the peak tourism period ahead of winter months.

“It gives people optimism when you see things happening, especially a large-scale, internationally recognised event that keeps us on the world map,” Ms Price said.

“The weather, the Rip Curl Pro and three short weeks in a row has been good in terms of encouraging people to use leave and get away, and we’ve seen that across regional Victoria.”