The head of Albury's business representative body says there is no doubt Victorians are coming across the border in large numbers to avoid wearing masks and helping CBD traders begin the fightback from COVID-19 impacts such as the border closure.
Albury Business Connect chairman Barry Young made the observation as part of a presentation to Albury Council on Monday night along with the group's general manager, Carrick Gill-Vallance.
"In my time retailing in Dean Street, I don't think I've seen the city as vibrant as it is at the moment," Mr Young said.
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"We are getting a lot of traffic coming to Albury, particularly from North-East Victoria, because of the mask situation, but we are also getting a lot of visitation from along the river, Cobram, Tocumwal, Hay, Wagga.
"Masks are one thing, but if the offer is not right, masks won't make a difference.
"The feedback I'm getting is people are coming to stay for a night, spend a day shopping and have been really surprised by the offer Albury is presenting at the moment."
Albury mayor Kevin Mack also commented on the CBD state of play.
"There are a few shops empty, but to be honest I think they were empty before COVID-19," he said.
Albury Wodonga has 40,000 wearing masks with restricted business operations and across the river another 40,000 with no masks and open business, constant free flow of people in between and no COVID. Can you consider one consistent community approach inside agreed border bubbles?— Mark Dixon (@MarkDix38013320) October 5, 2020
The Albury group made a $137,000 profit last financial year, up on the forecast profit of $22,000 and all attributed to COVID.
It had $25,000 of unspent money due to the inability to host events, $$40,000 in unspent wages and $50,000 in government assistance and JobKeeper.
"If COVID didn't happen we were on track to making our forecasted profit," Mr Gill-Vallance said.
He said the surplus would be re-invested in computer software upgrades "so we can do more of what we should be doing which is advocating, more business development with our members and growing that membership base".
Albury Business Connect presently has 379 members, down from the six-year average of 415, largely due to COVID.
It has also undergone a recent re-branding from Albury-Northside Chamber to Albury Business Connect and welcomed three new board members from six applications.