The NSW South Coast has been inundated with Canberra tourists after the school holidays began for ACT public schools on Friday 3 July.
With international travel off the cards, those planning an overseas escapade this winter have been forced to swap Maui for Mogo, Mykonos for Moruya, and Bali for Bateman’s Bay.
President of Batemans Bay Business & Tourism Chamber, Alison Miers, told Canberra Weekly her own accommodation business has been effectively booked out since 1 June, which is reflective of the experience of many NSW South Coast businesses.
“One of the restaurants I know is doing double figures for this time of the year, there is the demand and, look, I’m probably up this June on previous June,” she said.
“I went through Mogo yesterday (Monday 6 July) and had never seen it busier, I’ve had a business here for 25 years, so I know the ebb and flow of traffic.
“I went into one of the shops yesterday and she said it was busier than on the weekend,” Ms Miers said.
According to Ms Miers, while most of the tourist traffic descending on the region is from Canberra, there have been a lot of travellers from regional NSW coming to the coast.
“I think a fair few had to cancel overseas holidays and just wanted to get away.
“We’ve also had a few Victorians floating through doing road trips, which is obviously going to stop now … it will be interesting to see if it will affect us much,” she said.
Ms Miers said tourists heading to the South Coast are doing so both to shake off isolation and to support the region following the bushfires that decimated the region last summer.
“It’s still in their minds that this region needs some support … that’s why a lot of people are travelling here,” she said.
Ms Miers said the NSW South Coast’s current tourist influx is comparable to the incursion of travellers in January after the bushfires had hit and decimated the region.
“(In January) It got busy really quickly … It was a different landscape really of people coming and the area was exposed in a different light.
“With COVID it was totally different, it was just empty for two months … From 23 March I had $100,000 worth of cancellations in 24 hours, it was like the business went overnight.”
But Ms Miers said come 1 June when NSW lifted travel restrictions, business throughout the region “turned on quicker than it turned off”.
“Restaurants are all busy; with limited numbers it’s very difficult to get in for a lot of places because people turn up in town and expect things to be normal … It’s certainly not normal,” she said.