IT'S an unusual sight at one of Warrnambool's leading motels on a weekend that would normally be among the busiest in a year.
Minibars are empty, most showers run cold, and only four out of 32 staff are still working.
As visitors adhere to stay-at-home restrictions to ward off the coronavirus pandemic, most Warrnambool accommodation providers barely have a single booking this Easter long weekend.
Warrnambool City's visitor economy service manager Paul Pinkerton said the 2019 weekend saw about 3,000 people visit Flagstaff Hill.
"We had 2,203 turn up to Day on the Hill on Easter Sunday and just shy of 800 people to see the night show," he said.
"It's almost as busy as Christmas to New Years Day week for us."
Best Western Olde Maritime motel owner Raj Patel said the restrictions had torn business owners into two minds.
"On the one hand I want my hotel full, on the other hand I don't. The faster we get rid of this virus the better," Mr Patel said.
The 43-room motel is among Warrnambool's top rated online yet will only welcome one guest this weekend.
"It's like someone has just come in and turned the tap off," Mr Patel said. "We have turned the hot water off in half the hotel and emptied out the fridges to save costs."
But Mr Patel said he was determined to stay open.
"I am staying open for essential services, I have a few people working on the wind farms and at the hospitals, and the bus drivers for V/Line," he said.
"I'm not doing this to pay my loans, I'm doing it for my staff as well because everyone needs a job when they come back.
"I've been in the motel industry for 27 years, I've never had zero occupancy."
Elm Tree Motel owner David Sargent said the lack of business was making times tough.
"Our policy is to stay open as long as we can, there's nothing else to do," he said.
"It's been extremely poor, March has been the lowest point I've seen in five years."
He said the motel had been at about 10 per cent capacity in the past week and "had no forward bookings".
In the business Mr Sargent has had in the past weeks, he has been shocked that people have asked for a reduction in his prices.
"I've had to drop prices to close deals which I think is pretty rude," he said.
"But it's been better to do that than to not have anything.
"Hopefully those people will remember that service when things are right again."
Mr Sargent has had to let some of his staff go due to the lack of occupancy. He admits that despite Flagstaff Hill recording its busiest summer period yet, the flow-on effect didn't reach the accommodation service.
"From my point of view, we didn't have the best January on record," Mr Sargent said.
"I had lowered my price and I still had a lower occupancy; down 25 per cent on the January prior which was certainly not a record either."
Mr Sargent said bookings from workers in essential services were keeping the sector afloat.
"Recently we've had some reasonable weeks; I had a customer book out six rooms and the hospital has been a source of some business," he said.
"We depend very much on our existing customers."
Comfort Inn Western Warrnambool owner Deb Jones said most guests cancelled due to government messages not to travel at Easter, and she called one to ask they postponed their stay.
"You want to do the right thing for the town and the state and the country but then you are turning away people," Ms Jones said.
Despite taking out honours just months ago as the best of its type in Australia and New Zealand, the 20-room motel will make a loss this month as rental costs outstrip income.
Ms Jones fears that the fallout will have a long-lasting impact on tourism and hospitality.
"It depends how soon businesses get back in the swing of things, or if people have money to spend," she said.
"I don't think it will be a quick fix."
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