Albury-Wodonga and four surrounding areas have experienced a loss in tourism revenue of up to $223 million during recent bushfires.
Murray Regional Tourism has identified a drop in visitation of between 400,000 and 600,000 across the Border, Greater Hume, Federation, Berrigan and Moira areas.
Chief executive Mark Francis met with operators in Albury, Holbrook, Corowa and Cobram this week.
"We heard a lot of businesses put off casual staff, because come New Year's Day [in Albury] it was like the tap turned off," he said.
"Moteliers said they've had direct cancellations but also a big chunk of business travel reduced.
"There wasn't the Sydney-Melbourne traffic, and for some food and beverage businesses, those visitors are 35 to 40 per cent of their market during that period."
While the impact has been significant - and even more so in the High Country - strategies to bring people back are having an impact.
"There's definitely a desire to help," Mr Francis said.
"We just have to make sure enough businesses are connected to these campaigns."
Nine campaigns are running, including "Now's The time to Love NSW" which launched at the weekend.
Greater Hume Shire tourism and promotions officer Kerrie Wise said the promotions were making an impact.
"We've seen some new people - the campaigns are starting to kick in," she said.
Boosting domestic travel will be even more important with a drop in international visitors because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Francis said messaging would ask people to holiday in the regions.
"It's some work we've been doing for a little while but that might get escalated in terms of timing," he said.
"We'll be putting an itinerary building program into our online area, so we can curate touring opportunities.
"There is a perception there's still smoke around or things have been burnt out when they haven't, so we need to overcome that.
"These regions have also been highly impacted by drought."
Mr Francis urged businesses to complete an impact survey at murrayregionaltourism.com.au.
"It will give us a better picture to discuss with all levels of government," he said.
Timing to bring tourists back 'has to be right'
Mr Francis said it was important operators had an Australian Tourism Data Warehouse listing to be captured by those campaigns.
Upgrading visitor facilities in Woomargama National Park and educational tours about bush regeneration are two ideas that could help the area recover.
Flyfaire Wines in Woomargama is among the many businesses that have been impacted by the Green Valley, Talmalmo fire, and operator Julianne Cox met with Murray Regional Tourism's Mark Francis to discuss the next steps.
Mrs Cox said their property was burnt out in 1985 and December's fire was only 10 kilometres from the winery at one point.
"If the wind changed things could have been different," she said.
"The cellar door has been open for six years, but my husband and I started the vineyard in 1993.
"Usually the summer period is our busiest time; before Christmas it gets really busy.
"We haven't been open over that period this year."
Mrs Cox is still trying to determine what impact smoke taint has had on their vines, and said the best way people could help was to buy current products.
"We've had people ringing up wanting to buy with us, so that support is really good," she said.
Mr Francis said he would investigate whether there was funding for grape testing in NSW, like there was in Victoria.
He also outlined some of the government support available including funding for new regional events to bring tourists back.
"But what is the right time? We have to make sure the community is back on their feet," Mr Francis asked.
Mrs Cox said many people in fire-impacted areas weren't ready, and were still dealing with immediate clean-up.
"A lot of people haven't had a break. It's been very stressful," she said.
Greater Hume Shire tourism and promotions officer Kerrie Wise said from shire residents to travellers, the impact of the emergency had been profound.
"We had quite a few people all of a sudden in a mad panic to get home, because they were traumatised from being evacuated - it was very obvious talking to them at the visitor information centre," she said.
"That's the other thing we've got to deal with; the long-term trauma.
"For a while, particularly during the height of it all, it was very obvious there was only emergency services in the area."
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Mrs Cox suggested a new lookout within the national park and better signage and promotion as a way to boost tourism going forward, and Ms Wise said immediate measures could be educational videos or open days run with NSW National Parks staff.
"It could be as simple as that, tying in with the Friends of Woomargama National Park," she said.
"Hopefully we'll get a few people on the road."