NSW residents will be able to take a holiday anywhere in NSW from next month, with intra-state travel restrictions to be lifted from Monday, June 1.
This has come as welcome news to holiday accommodation providers in the Tumut region.
The move isn’t the panacea for all the woes inflicted on tourism accommodation providers since Covid-19 restrictions came in, but it also isn’t the only boost some of them have had recently.
Tumut Valley Motel co-proprietor Sunny Xia said the lifting of the restrictions would increase tourist numbers, and believes any such news is good news.
“In the last two months, everybody has cancelled,” she said.
“Usually we have a lot of bus tours, but four or five bus tours cancelled, and it cost us $150,000.
“The last two months have been hard but luckily, because of the bushfires we have still got a lot of essential workers here. This and the JobKeeper allowance, which our cleaners are very happy about, has kept us going.”
She expects to get more bookings with the relaxation of restrictions, but “not that many.”
“We will get marginally more people, those who really want to get out after lockdown,” she said.
The destruction of the Mount Selwyn ski resort in the bushfires was damaging to business.
“We would usually get many people during the July school holidays for Mount Selwyn, but they won’t be coming,” she said.
However, there’s more good news.
“Another thing that has helped us is workers staying here who are building the Snowy 2.0 project,” she said.
“I hope this will help all businesses.”
It has been a tough year for Talbingo Tourist Caravan Park, but co-proprietor Diane Smith believes this relaxation of restrictions will be a much-needed bonus.
“This is certainly going to help. There has already been quite a few calls this morning,” she said on Wednesday.
“We’ve been down about 40 per cent since the fires. It could be a quiet winter without Mount Selwyn.”
Amaroo Motel stand-in manager Laura Schoeman said things were picking up already due to many Snowy 2.0 workers staying.
It is a welcome reversal of fortune for the motel and Ms Schoeman hopes this will continue with the relaxation of travel restrictions.
“It has been really tough since April,” she said.
“We’ve lost about 50 per cent of business, so I hope this helps.”
The Merivale Motel has also received a much-needed bonus in the form of bushfire recovery workers.
“We are full of workers at the moment so we are pretty okay,” manager Shelley Akers said.
“We had a few quiet weeks at Easter and the start of autumn, and we lost Ciderfest, Rock the Turf and the Falling Leaf Festival, but otherwise we haven’t had a rest.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro said NSW citizens will be able take recreational trips across NSW, as long as they maintain social distancing and good hygiene.
Ms Berejiklian said lifting the holiday travel restriction will give everyone a much needed break and help get small businesses and the tourism industry moving again.
“This is the day we’ve all been looking forward to since the Covid-19 travel restrictions were put in place earlier this year and I would like to thank everyone for their patience during the past few months of being cooped up at home,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“I must stress to everyone that, while we want people to enjoy a well-earned holiday, we must do this responsibly and continue to abide by physical distancing measures, as the last thing we want is further outbreaks that will force us to reintroduce restrictions.”
Mr Barilaro said while regional NSW will welcome visitors with open arms, holidaymakers should call their planned accommodation venues and attractions to ensure they will be open and confirm their bookings before travelling.
“Covid could not have come at a worse time for regional NSW, with towns already doing it tough due to bushfires and drought and so I encourage everyone to make plans to safely and responsibly visit their favourite regional holiday destination, or discover a new one,” Mr Barilaro said.
“I encourage holidaymakers to visit local businesses, enjoy local attractions and feast on the best food regional NSW has to offer, and for those not able to get away in June, to start making plans for later in the year when even more businesses will be open.
“I’m very pleased to share that this means we will have a ski season this year, however holidaymakers should be aware that ski resorts will likely need time to put Covid plans into place and you should make contact before visiting.”
Venues are also encouraged to review their booking policies to allow travellers to easily cancel their trip if they have any symptoms. A number of caravan parks and camping grounds will be open from June 1, but travellers should call ahead and confirm bookings, while travellers planning to visit national parks should check www.nationalparks.
nsw.gov.au for further information.
Travellers need to especially practice strong hygiene around shared facilities. Travellers from interstate will be able to visit NSW for a holiday from June 1, but will need to comply with the rules of their home state when returning.