After a long time apart, Canberrans flocked to their homes away from home over the weekend as the regions welcomed them back with open arms.
The Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber proclaimed its excitement with the return of Canberrans through its welcome sign (pictured above). President David Maclachlan was hopeful that the weekend marked the end of a difficult period for Batemans Bay businesses.
“The effects of the lockdown have been amplified down here,” he said.
With tourism being the major industry in the Bay and the lockdown in Canberra and Sydney putting a majority of the industry on hold, Mr Maclachlan said the flow-on effect was devastating.
Canberrans make up the most significant source of day visitors in the region, and Mr Maclachlan said several people he spoke to on the weekend had said they returned to support the local economy.
“There’s a very significant connection and a lot of Canberrans who come down here, this is like their second home, and this is where a lot of them retire, so there’s an acute awareness of their effect on the economy down here,” he said.
However, things aren’t entirely back to normal as of yet, with a high level of concern from local businesses hurt at different times over the last two years by overstocking and overstaffing to disappointing returns.
Braidwood was also thrilled to welcome Canberrans after months of lockdown.
Braidwood and Villages Business Chamber secretary Nick Kemp noticed unusual patches of traffic through the area over the weekend, a trend he believes will settle as the region adjusts back into life outside of lockdown.
“It’s certainly been getting busy; Saturday was a very busy day in town,” Mr Kemp said.
“It’s normally fairly predictable with weekend traffic from Canberra.
“We had traffic at unusual times, and it was busy, but there was definitely an exciting post-lockdown mismatch of traffic with some heading to the coast and some heading from the coast back up to Canberra, I think.”
Businesses in Braidwood reported pre-COVID springtime visitor levels, with noticeably more locals also getting out and about. Mr Kemp also believes that as more and more people become fully vaccinated, businesses will continue to ramp up heading into the Christmas period.
With the weather heating up after a long winter, perhaps it’s time to start planning your weekend getaway.