South-west accommodation providers say the lifting of metro travel restrictions will provide a much-needed "huge economic boom" for the region this weekend.
One has gone as far to say that it will be the "biggest spending weekend possibly in history" as cashed up visitors with pent up funds let loose after months of being stuck at home.
Langley's Port Fairy Accommodation Booking Service owner Jamie Langley said he received 60 online bookings in less than 24 hours, after Premier Dan Andrews announced the lifting of restrictions, which comes into effect Friday at 6pm.
Mr Langley said almost all of its 94 holiday rentals were booked with families visiting for the four-day Melbourne Cup long weekend.
"People are coming away to spend money," Mr Langley said.
"They'll be coming to cafes and eateries, they're going to be buzzing this weekend. Port Fairy's going to be alive, the whole area's going to be alive."
Warrnambool's Best Western Olde Maritime owner Raj Patel said it gave the tourism sector great confidence ahead of the busy summer season.
He said the city's traders relied on metro visitors, while interstate and international borders remained closed, and it was a relief to open up.
"We are really constrained when Melbourne's locked down," Mr Patel said. "For country areas it's really difficult. Once they open up it will be a lot better for everyone."
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He expects visitors to arrive on Saturday, with the weekend's peak to hit on Sunday when the city would be "buzzing" as people drove down the Great Ocean Road, looking for last-minute accommodation.
"We need people walking around the main street, buying things from different retailers and being down at Lake Pertobe and enjoying the beach area. It'll be great."
He said the trying times would be for the restaurants and hospitality who had to adhere to capacity limits and check people's vaccination statuses.
"That's going to be the hard part."
Warrnambool City Council chief executive officer Peter Schneider said Surfside Holiday Park bookings were up 20 per cent on last year, with 559 room and site nights booked for the long weekend.
This is compared to 463 nights booked for same time last year.
Moyne Shire mayor Daniel Meade said it was great to welcome visitors back.
"Within hours of the state government's announcement, our caravan park teams began to see an increase in inquiries and bookings for this weekend," Cr Meade said.
"We're also hearing very positive feedback from local businesses who are gearing up for a big weekend ahead.
"After a difficult year, this is a great opportunity for our tourism industry to bounce back from the pandemic and help our great shire to thrive again."
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