This time last year, the local tourism industry suffered a significant blow with the implementation of border restrictions. Families desperate to see friends and loved ones waited with bated breath for the announcement of the lifting of restrictions; hoping to get back to some normality so they could enjoy something as simple as sharing a meal together or their annual getaway they had been forced to put on hold indefinitely. However, 2022 looks to resemble a regular season with businesses wanting to put 2021 behind them and look to a more positive year ahead.
The Bridge took a moment to catch up with some local businesses for their feedback on how the summer trade has been tracking.
Barham Bakery assistant Brandon Shepard said, “Between Christmas and New Year, especially Boxing Day, was phenomenal.”
He said that the influx of trade was welcomed after such a challenging year prior. “There was a lot more trade than usual. The weeks over Christmas and right up until this last week has been busier than expected. We’re still steady at the moment, but it’s been great to have people calling in from Ballarat, Melbourne and as far as Gippsland.”
Similar sentiments were shared by cluBarham Marketing & Events Co-ordinator, Brad Cook, with the bistro, gaming and accommodation areas all experiencing a significant increase in turnover.
“The lead up to New Year was busy, absolutely flat out, both at the club itself and also with accommodation where we still have most weekends booked out throughout January. I’d say we’ve been busier than expected, but this last week has been a bit quieter now COVID-19 has kicked up again.”
Over the other side of the bridge, accommodation has been exceptional, with Murray Waters Motor Inn and Apartments enjoying a solid period of bookings with occupancy still sitting at 70-80%. Owner Belinda Molin explains –
“We had a very busy period between Christmas and just after New Year. Ninety percent of our clients are Victorians, we don’t really get much from New South Wales. Visitors are mainly from Ballarat and surrounding areas, Geelong, Bendigo, Castlemaine, and a bit of Melbourne. We are feeling positive for 2022. As long as COVID-19 stays away, we are going to stay open the best we can.”
With Australia Day next Wednesday, our twin towns are anticipating another inflow of tourists to share in the celebrations on the mighty Murray River while following safe COVID-19 practices.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 20 January 2022.