Daylesford is crying out for people to return to the region after months without visitors due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The region, which relies heavily on tourism, has had minimal positive COVID-19 cases in recent times, with Hepburn totaling only two, both of which came over a month ago.
CEO of Daylesford Macedon Tourism Steve Wroe said with cases in regional Victoria continuing to drop, region-to-region travel must be opened up in a safe manner.
"I am very supportive of the direction that the government is heading in in terms of opening region-to-region visitation," he said.
"With the exception of little pockets like Colac, most of regional Victoria is COVID-free. I have to balance the financial and economic needs of the tourism industry with the health and wellbeing of the community. I would never advocate for a willy-nilly opening up of tourism."
Mr Wroe continued, adding Hepburn's reliance on tourism means they have one of the highest rates of businesses accessing the JobKeeper scheme.
46.09 per cent of businesses accessed the JobKeeper scheme in May, which is the one of the highest levels recorded in regional Victoria, behind the Surf Coast at 46.91 per cent.
"The key thing to note is that the Hepburn Shire is one of the two or three LGAs that is most reliant on tourism as part of the gross contribution to regional products," he said.
It's very important to get the economy restarted and open up region-to-region tourism as quickly as possible.CEO of Daylesford Macedon Tourism Steve Wroe
"We have a really high rate of businesses applying for JobKeeper just because that reliance on tourism has meant their struggling financially. It's really important that we reopen safely."
Some people within the community have voiced their surprise in terms of how much they have enjoyed life in Daylesford without the constant bustle of tourists.
Mr Wroe said while this may be nice, it is simply not viable for the region to continue to thrive.
"While it is nice to wander down to the lake or down Vincent Street and have it to yourself, that's just not a sustainable thing."
How the region is ultimately opened up remains on the minds of business owners around Daylesford, with some unsure what is the best course of action.
Anna Vanlieshot owns a trio of Daylesford restaurants, including the Daylesford Steakhouse, which have lost the vast majority of their customers from outside of the region due to the continued lockdown.
She voiced how she was feeling conflicted about potentially opening up the region without the prospect of visitors just yet.
"It's not back and white, I think a lot of business owners are feeling conflicted," she said.
"If we open without other regions being able to travel here, I don't know if it will be worth it financially. Daylesford is a very tourist driven town, so it may not be worth it if we can just have local patrons return.
"However it could be beneficial to simply have people back inside eating in... a lot of businesses are already open for takeaway, it may help things feel somewhat normal."
Moving forward, another thing that remains unclear for Mrs Vanlieshot is how eager people will be to eat out when restrictions are eased, or whether some fear will remain.
"There is still a level of uncertainty and fear from people in terms of going out. When everyone is able to go out again, we're not sure how many will actually want to."
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