Virus fears spark Easter cancellations

Riverglade Caravan Park manager Matt Pearce is expecting another good Easter, despite the devastating impact of coronavirus.

Accommodation providers in the Tumut region are experiencing a full range of fortunes as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Harriet House (formerly Tumut Motor Inn) lessee Kim Crawford said the motel had had at least 40 cancellations due to the virus.

“We are wondering how we’re going to pay the rent,” she said

“We have a lease here.”

Most of these cancellations are Easter bookings.

Bookings for Ciderfest are coming in, but this festival is also under a cloud.

Straight after one crisis rocked the region, now another rocks the whole world, double blows from which many business may struggle to recover.

“We were looking really good after the bushfires,” Ms Crawford said.

“This is quite distressing and potentially bankrupting for small businesses. It depends on how the government reacts, and whether businesses have a ‘circumstances out of control’ clause on their leases.

“I heard on a program on the ABC telling business people to save themselves by cutting employees, and re-employing them when things improve.

“The only good thing about this is that everyone is in the same boat. The bushfires hit our region, but this has affected everywhere.”

Ms Crawford said the motel was hoping not to have to cut any jobs.

Things are better at Riverglade Caravan Park, which despite the devastating impact of the virus on so many businesses and events, is looking forward to another busy Easter.

“Easter is one of the busiest weekends of the year, and we are still fully booked,” manager Matt Pearce said.

“We have had a couple of cancellations, but new bookings have filled these spots. There’s still plenty of people who want to go out and do stuff.

“If there is one thing we have learnt from the fires is that people don’t necessarily take risks on board; they just want a holiday. There are a lot of oldies on the road and they’re going to stay on holiday.”

Mr Pearce said the park was still getting some cancellations for before and after Easter.

“But for Easter, most people pay and book a year ahead, and they don’t want to cancel.”

He believes that unless the situation dramatically changes from its current status, then there are not likely to be many Easter cancellations.

However, he knows the news isn’t all good.

“There is a strain on supplies for the local community at the same time that this community needs tourism more than ever, so you have to take the wins with the losses,” he said.

There was a recent marketing strategy named #bringyouremptyesky, encouraging visitors to fill their eskys with local goods while in our area.

“Now people will bring their eskys and have nothing to put in them,” Mr Pearce said.

“This community has a lot to offer with food and wine, but at the moment, other things are strained.”

He believes the community will feel a pinch in the winter months.

“Winter is never a great time here and with Selwyn gone, that’ll hurt, but we’ll battle on.”

Nimbo Fork Lodge at Killimicat is in a unique situation to actually take advantage of the crisis.

“We are remote anyway, and we have a maximum of 22 people, so people have a unique opportunity to isolate,” Lodge business manager Gemma Cummins said.

The lodge restaurant has a capacity of 14.

“Anything people are recommending, people can do here, as well as slow down and have a good time while they are here,” she said.