Some sense of normal is about to return to one of the most popular tourist spots in western Victoria.
Daylesford, which is part of the Hepburn Shire Council, will reopen to tourists for the first time in months on Thursday due to easing COVID-19 restrictions in regional Victoria.
Mayor Licia Kokocinski said while the announcement is an exciting one, her initial feelings were of unease as she wants to see the region remain safe.
"It's been a real mix of emotions," she said.
"My initial reaction was fear and trepidation... however that has begun to ease and the excitement about having people return to the region has set in."
That fear came from believing the region will likely see its fair share of unlawful visitors from lockdown areas of metropolitan Melbourne
Cr Kokocinski said she hopes the new $4957 fine for people entering regional Victoria from metropolitan Melbourne will help dissuade people from unlawfully traveling to the region.
"There are still significant issues in Melbourne and the greater metropolitan area," she continued.
"People love the Hepburn Shire, but we don't want people bringing infections with them. I hope the new fines will send a message to anyone thinking of traveling here."
Looking forward to the first weekend which will feature tourists from other parts of regional Victoria, Cr Kokocinski said there is a sense of excitement, especially in Daylesford.
"What we're looking for is an increase in people from other areas of regional Victoria to Hepburn," she said.
Tourism and hospitality is the backbone of our economy... it's absolutely critical that those industries are revitalised again.Hepburn Shire Council mayor Licia Kokocinski
"I think our shopkeepers will think it's fantastic, it's going to bring some of the vibrancy back to the town."
One popular business looking to make the most of the incoming tourists is Hotel Frangos. Accommodation manager Marguerite Thomas said the venue has already received a positive response from other parts of regional Victoria.
"Regarding dining we've already seen a really positive response," she said.
"We've already received dinner bookings from other parts of regional Victoria. Everyone is very excited that they can now eat out again and leave their homes.
"Accommodation wise, we have picked up a couple of other regional tourists, however there's still a long way to go until things are back to normal."
Seeing Vincent Street bustling again is an exciting prospect for all businesses within Daylesford. As Ms Thomas explained, it has been very quiet over the past few months with the region in lockdown.
"Especially on the weekends, it's been like a ghost town," she continued.
"Vincent Street has been dead by around 4pm on the weekends. Now that everything is able to open up, there's a real sense of excitement along Vincent Street."
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