Upper Murray and North East towns are welcoming back residents and tourists this weekend with major highways back to normal.
Emergency Services have worked hard to open areas for travellers, as long as they check VicTraffic and VicEmergency websites before and during their trips.
The Murray Valley Highway has been accessible to residents only throughout January but was officially reopened for public access at 7am on Friday.
Ovens Valley towns like Oxley, Milawa, Myrtleford, Bright, Porepunkah, Harrietville, Mt Hotham, Dinner Plain and Falls Creek are very much open for business and looking forward to welcoming you - as are attractive nearby destinations like Rutherglen, Yackandandah, Mansfield, and Beechworth.
Regional Controller Paul King said across the North East, visitors were needed more than ever to help businesses recover from income loss and other fire impacts.
"Our towns are not looking for charity, they are looking to welcome you back to our beautiful region and get back to business after an immensely difficult time," he said.
"Many roads are now open, and those that not will be visibly closed with signs and marked on the VicTraffic website. Anyone sightseeing on closed roads will be putting themselves and emergency services at risk - these roads remain closed for good reason."
Meanwhile, Tourism Australia is enacting the first phase of a $20 million nationally-co-ordinated domestic marketing initiative, as part of a recovery package announced by the federal government.
The new domestic campaign, Holiday Here This Year, encourages Australians to explore their own backyard throughout 2020 to assist with bushfire recovery.
Tourism North East has received a $200,000 Victorian government grant to assist the region's tourism industry.
Of nearly 270 tourism businesses surveyed early in January, over half of reported 100 percent losses.
Additional modeling commissioned by TNE by specialist tourism consultants, Urban Enterprise, also estimated that the March 2020 quarter losses by regional tourism businesses could be close to $200 million.
Acting chief executive Sarah Pilgrim said the state government grant would provide free Australian Tourism Data Warehouse listings for "each and every tourism business in the High Country", giving them wide exposure.
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"What this funding does is provide individual tourism business operators the tools to leverage State and Federal marketing strategies underpinning bushfire recovery efforts", she said.
While bushfires and smoke are still impacting areas of the Alpine National Park, Mount Buffalo and the Upper Murray, the vast majority of the High Country's towns and villages have not been directly impacted by bushfires and most businesses remain open, including the alpine resorts of Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Dinner Plain and Mt Buller.
Visitors should check the following sources before and during travel:
- VicTraffic website traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au
- VicEmergency website: emergency.vic.gov.au
- Park and Forest closures: ffm.vic.gov.au