South-west motorists are paying upwards of about $20 more at the bowser, prompting fears the rising cost of fuel will cause a flurry of cancelled travel plans to the region.
Corangamite Shire mayor Ruth Gstrein said it was likely motorists would soon reconsider their need to travel to the region, whether for business or pleasure.
"With our limited public transport opportunities, I think people will start factoring in the cost of travel whether it's for holidaying or for work and business," she said.
"I'm thinking about the local businesses impacted, particularly freight businesses like your feed producers, Fonterra and Saputo, Bega - the milk collection. It's going to have a significant impact on them."
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She said the council had already budgeted for rising diesel costs.
"From a council budgeting point of view, we've already factored in a $200,000 increase in our diesel costs this year," Cr Gstrein said.
"We can't forget people are out of lockdown. Will people go back to work? If you're coming to us from Colac or Warrnambool, that adds significant costs to your daily commute.
"Whether it's tourism or business, instead of just jumping in the car and taking off I think people are going to start thinking about how much it's going to cost them to get there."
Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism general manager Liz Price said it was possible fuel prices would deter tourists, but the board would take a wait-and-see approach.
"It can work both ways, so it can be a negative and it could impact peoples' desire to travel," she said.
"Travel is a discretionary spend anyway and the less discretionary income people have impacts on their capacity to travel.
"That being said, Victoria is pretty compact so there's an opportunity there that people who do like road travel would be most likely to choose a more compact state where they can get more value for money and see more things than travelling to the outback.
"When petrol prices are going up, all travel costs go up including flights. Relatively, we still remain a cost-effective way to travel."
Ms Price said tourist towns were approaching a quieter period and businesses might struggle with lower mid-week visitation.
"What people have seen in the past fortnight is a really steep increase in fuel prices and I think that's where we're going to see that flow-on to the cost of most goods and services," she said.
"As we start to head into the quieter time anyway it's going to be difficult to see what impact it has on consumer behaviour.
"Tourism numbers are up and down - weekends can be quite busy especially if the weather is good but we are seeing mid-week substantially dropping off.
"That's going to be the challenge without international tourists and if interstate markets don't pick us, that mid-week visitation will be really challenging for accommodation providers.
"We're seeing some businesses actually reducing their operating hours due to staff and lack of numbers."
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