After months of economic pain, there is at last a hint of optimism in the air for the region's beleaguered tourism and accommodation sector.
Many business owners and workers are hoping the city will capitalise on the predicted rush of Melburnians keen to explore beyond their current 25km limits - once they are legally allowed to.
Lockdown's grip on Melbourne remained in place - albeit somewhat loosened - at the weekend, which disappointed most people involved in providing accommodation around the state.
However, Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday gave the clearest indication so far the so-called "ring of steel" could lift "within a month", the most positive sign yet that Ballarat's biggest tourism market is set for a much needed return.
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The re-opening of Ballarat's biggest tourism attraction Sovereign Hill this month will help the city compete for a slice of the Melbourne visitor dollar.
However, tourism workers said they were also looking forward to seeing a concerted promotion campaign.
The City of Ballarat, which now has the remit to promote the city as a visitor destination, is not allowed to outline its marketing plans publicly due to the caretaker period currently in place for the local government elections.
For some, the absence of a public strategy is a concern.
There needs to be something going on out there to make people want to come back to Ballarat
Trish Wood, who runs the Lake Inn on Mair Street with her husband Toney, said she hoped the elections would not slow the push to raise Ballarat's profile - especially in the absence of the city's usual summer events schedule.
"We lost up to 95 per cent of the business here at the motel. It's not only us - it's pubs, it's shops, it's the cafes, everybody needs people to be picking Ballarat before they pick Bendigo and Geelong.
"I haven't seen anything, and I haven't heard of anything, probably because the elections are on and council can't do anything while the elections are on.
"There needs to be something going on out there to make people want to come back to Ballarat."
Adrienne Cove at the Big4 Windmill Holiday Park in Cardigan said the continued lockdown had cost thousands of dollars in cancellations for the this weekend.
"We are hanging out for the ring of steel to be lifted," she said. "We absolutely need Melburnians to be let out. Any marketing the [City of] Ballarat can do is fantastic but that's not the be-all-and-end-all. Once Melburnians can travel they'll definitely come to us."
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While the City of Ballarat was unable to elaborate, The Courier understands the Weekend in Ballarat marketing campaign has been running to target potential visitors from regional areas where travel is possible.
A campaign geared towards the Melbourne market has not yet been launched, although promotion is expected to kick into place as soon as there is any more concrete development on lifting restrictions for those living in the city.
For Iain Gunn, the chairman of Ballarat Regional Tourism, the message needs to go out as soon as it can.
"There's no point leaving it until the announcement is made and people are ready to start travelling," he said. "They need to be ahead of the curve.
"We want Ballarat positioned right in the forefront of people's minds when Melburnians are able to travel in numbers.
"When it's safe, when the government relaxes the restrictions, Ballarat needs to be holding out the welcome mat and shouting it from the rooftops - 'we are open and ready for business'".
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