WE’RE BACK: Clarence tourism industry prepares welcome mat
WITHIN hours of the Premier's announcement that regional tourism would be making a comeback, the phones were running hot.
"We were overwhelmed with calls as soon as the announcement was made. We made 50 bookings very quickly that day," Solitary Islands Marine Park Resort manager Casey Meaker said.
"We have definitely seen the tide start to turn and the excitement is building."
Clarence tourism businesses have reported fielding an increased volume of calls since Monday when Gladys Berejiklian announced that from June 1, NSW residents would be free to holiday around the state.
Ms Meaker, who manages the popular resort at Wooli, put it down to people being eager to get out of the house but wanting to beat the crowds.
"Everyone was really unsure about how long it (the travel ban) was going to go for and we were a bit concerned people would be a bit slow and cautious to get out and about," she said.
"I think there is excitement. People are wanting to get out and they are looking for areas which are off the beaten track a bit and where they can stay socially distant.
"That is why the Clarence Valley (is popular), it provides that beautiful backdrop but without the crowds."
It was a similar scenario at LJ Hooker Iluka who by Thursday had locked in 20 holiday rental bookings with a further six pending.
"Immediately we had a number of calls come in, some callers calling several times in the day," owner Christina Nipperess said. "People are a bit keen to get out and have a getaway."
Ms Nipperess said as the ban on regional travel wore on, many became more accepting of the situation and she hoped it was something people learned from.
"Now that we do know about pandemics it is something that we hope guests would consider when they are making their bookings," she said. "But hopefully we do not get that second wave, and the only waves that are out there are in the ocean."
Clarence Valley Council was also preparing to reopen its parks at Brooms Head, Iluka, Minnie Water and Wooli and Yamba.
General manager Ashley Lindsay welcomed the Premier's announcement and said there had been an increase in interest in the Clarence Valley as a holiday destination since.
"Council-managed holiday parks are reopening on 1 June and phones having been ringing hot," he said. "Our tourism officers have seen an increase in inquiries from people planning breaks on the June long weekend and July holidays.
"There has also been a 44 per cent increase in visits to our tourism website My Clarence Valley since the Premier's announcement and we expect this increase in interest in the Clarence Valley to continue."
Mr Lindsay also announced as part of council's Plan Act and Rebuild program, there would be a team of staff providing one-on-on support for businesses as they adjusted to life during the pandemic.
The team will help businesses develop COVID-19 safe plans and checklists and distribute COVID-19 safe posters.