After months of empty beds across the Ballarat region, tourism operators are set to take the first step on the long road to recovery.
Travel within regional Victoria will be permitted from midnight on Wednesday, opening up the possibility for tourists from other areas of the state to return to Ballarat to see family and friends, or potentially visit one of the region's many attractions.
Sovereign Park Motor Inn owner Tim Canny said while the announcement will not return things to normal financially, it is the first important step in the right direction for Ballarat's tourism industry.
"It's obviously very exciting news and the first step in the right direction," he said.
"We're just very excited... we're really eager to get going again. We've never been so eager to have people return so it's going to be a really nice feeling to see visitors come back to us.
"While it may not have a huge impact on our business initially because around 80 per cent of our business comes from Melbourne, it is a good starting point. We're just quite excited at the prospect of having some regional visitors to the hotel because it's been very quiet for quite some time."
Moving forward, those within the tourism industry will also aim to closely follow their COVID-safe plan and ensure they are only accommodating for lawful visitors.
"We want to protect our staff and our guests by making sure the only people staying with us are from regional Victoria," Mr Canny added.
Looking at how to get people back traveling to the region, Ballarat Central City Motor Inn manager Shane Whatmough said a lot will depend on whether Ballarat's major attractions, like Sovereign Hill, will reopen.
Sovereign Hill is the key ingredient for tourism in Ballarat... We're all waiting to see what they do.Ballarat Central City Motor Inn manager Shane Whatmough.
"Being the major tourist attraction in Ballarat, they'll bring more people here, especially before school holidays. If they don't open, things get a lot harder."
A Sovereign Hill spokesperson told The Courier the tourist attraction was waiting on further clarification before making a statement.
How attractions will be able to reopen remains unknown, with the government stating "outdoor venues and events (will be able to open) subject to pre-approved plans."
Ballarat Wildlife Park managing director Greg Parker said his business will reopen as soon as Thursday if they are allowed.
"I'm ready to open on Thursday if (the announcement) includes us," he said.
"If we're dropping back to where we were, we're going back to when we were open. I'm guessing it does include us. The timing is perfect given the start of the school holidays..
"I've spoken with the council and we're just still waiting on a final direction as to where we are headed."
A similar sentiment was shared by Kryal Castle general manager Melissa Dimond, who said she was ready to lower the drawbridge as soon as they were given the all clear.
"It'd be amazing for business to be able to open our doors and lower the drawbridge," she said.
"We've got clear guidelines for our accommodation, but we're still waiting for the guidelines regarding amusement parks."
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