The tourism sector has been thrown a lifeline ahead of the September school holidays as regional Victoria enters step three of the state government's roadmap to 'COVID Normal'.
Travel across regional Victoria is now allowed with accommodation services open with social bubble caps.
However, travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas is not permitted as the capital remains in the first step of the roadmap.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said step three was the perfect opportunity for people to explore their own backyards.
"I think it's critical to have region-to-region travel as a first step for economic relief right across the state," he said.
"Our first indication of the school holidays is that accommodation operators are booking out and businesses are preparing for re-opening which is great news across many fronts.
"While region-to-region tourism will provide short-term relief for tourism businesses, it's certainly the Melbourne and Adelaide markets that will provide longer-term benefits for the south-west.
"It's really exciting, this is the first step to hopefully a positive recovery."
In a recent survey by The Standard, 84 per cent of respondents, or 416 people, wanted to see sites like Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, the Grampians and the Twelve Apostles opened for a locals-only style of operation. More than 75 per cent of respondents are looking to holiday in the south-west with the Grampians being on many people's lists.
"With metropolitan Melbourne people still unable to travel outside of their immediate area, there is no better time for our regional neighbours to enjoy the Grampians," Mr Sleeman said.
"We're coming into the best time to travel here with the wildflowers. It's a great time to embrace the beauty of the area and support the local tourism industry and jobs."
The Twelve Apostles was another key destination survey respondents were looking forward to visiting. The site re-opened on Monday with visitor numbers capped at 280 people at any one time.
Port Fairy Gum Tree Caravan Park owner Viv McCallum is looking forward to welcoming people back to the tourism town.
"We've been planning for this day and now we'll run around and hope people from regional areas will come," she said.
"The September holidays may be an indication of how things will go for us in summer but we're cautiously optimistic as we've had our COVID planning in place for ages.
"The only thing we have trepidation about is how they'll keep people from metropolitan areas out especially in Airbnbs which aren't regulated.
"Hopefully everyone will do the right thing, then we can have a summer; it'll be a COVID summer but that will get us back in business."
Mrs McCallum is awaiting further regulations about the capacity at which the caravan park can open for regional Victorian travellers, but she said she welcomed "people from regional areas with open arms".
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