Usually a weekend of "no-vacancy" signs, regional and interstate tourists spread out thinly during the Queen's Birthday weekend as health restrictions lingered in Melbourne.
One accommodation provider described scenes of a "ghost town" in Port Campbell with less than half her usual number of guests, while a caravan park in Warrnambool had success after lower rates brought back many lost bookings.
Now accommodation providers are looking ahead to the winter school holidays, hoping bookings will roar back if COVID-19 restrictions ease for Melburnians.
Warrnambool's Old Maritime Inn Best Western owner-manager Raj Patel said he wanted tourism groups and local and state government authorities to promote the school holidays.
"We need a big blitz so we can get people here spending money, not just on my business but the retail stores; everything," Mr Patel said.
He said promised state government travel vouchers could help boost winter trade.
Comfort Inn Warrnambool manager Cathy Muir said the motel was about 60 per cent full for the long-weekend but bookings for the school holidays were steady.
"We expect to be full again. Once restrictions are done in metro they will all come out," Ms Muir said.
But Port Campbell Southern Ocean Villas' Angela Rayner said most trade in winter usually came from international travellers.
The business lost more than $20,000 in bookings from domestic tourists this month alone.
"None of the housekeeping staff are making any money and they will end up wandering off and getting jobs elsewhere and when we do need them we won't have them," she said.
"The future, in terms of just revenue and staffing is looking very bleak and troubling."
She believed it was far quieter in Port Campbell than Warrnambool over the long weekend.
Big 4 Fig Tree Holiday Park manager Scott Hassan said bookings initially fell by 60 per cent when Melburnians learned they could not travel, but the park had success after dropping rates and advertising to regional Victorians.
"We put out social media posts to all of regional Victoria and we just about got to full capacity again for the Queen's Birthday weekend," he said.
"Caravans have become a big industry which is great for us because people are travelling around and staying in parks more."
He said visitors were mostly from western Victorian areas such as Ballarat, Stawell and Portland.
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