TOURISM operators in the Grampians have praised two recent events in the region and say business is strong despite more than 25 fires burning nearby for more than a week.
The majority of business owners contacted by The Courier said there had been no decline in visitor numbers, and cited the jazz festival two weekends ago and the ‘show and shine’event last weekend as the reason for the steady number of tourists.
Grampians Tourism CEO Will Flamsteed said the response from tourism operators in the region had been positive.
“We’ve yet to have any reports from tourist operators that the fires have had a negative effect on business,” Mr Flamsteed said.
“The actual fires aren’t too close to tourism hot spots, and the last couple of weeks have actually been very busy thanks to the jazz festival and the car show at the weekend.”
Caravan parks in the region reported high tourist numbers, with the Halls Gap Caravan Park and Big 4 Parkgate Resort saying they were fully booked for the last two weekends.
Owner of Baroka Downs Bob Adams said business at his luxury accommodation venue in Halls Gap remained steady during what was generally a quiet time of the year.
“We haven’t had anyone cancel bookings and I think the popularity of recent events has ensured we’ve remained busy,” Mr Adams said.
One tourist operator disagreed with claims that tourism was “business as usual.”
The Mountain Grand Hotel owner Don Calvert said although tourist operators in the Grampians would like people to believe everything was normal, it wasn’t the case.
“Numbers are definitely down due to the fires, and you can notice that all around town,” Mr Calvert said.
“Anyone who says anything different isn’t being entirely honest.”
Yesterday more than 200 personnel from the CFA, Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment were on the ground, working to contain seven fires in the Grampians that have burnt more than 1200 hectares.