THE operator of a major North East attraction is devastated pulling the plug on the 2020-2021 season due to the coronavirus crisis will profoundly impact tourism and jobs.
Yarrawonga-based Aquazone at Lake Mulwala will not reopen until December 2021.
Aquazone at Lake Mulwala managing director Deb North said the inflatable water park had been a major drawcard for tourists during the past five years.
She said she had to put off 38 staff and feared the wider impact on tourism.
"The closure will have a significant economic impact as the surplus visitors who come to the area because of our attraction won't be coming this way," she said.
"The dollar impact will be in the millions."
Ms North said the decision to abandon the season came after Victoria had two lockdowns, the state border closed and ongoing uncertainty amid the pandemic.
"It's a no-brainer to sit this season out and come back with a bang in December 2021," Ms North said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ms North said under present COVID-19 restrictions they lost two-thirds of their customers and ran safety risks to comply with face mask and sanitisation rules.
She people aged 18 and above were banned from contact activities.
"This directive removes one-third of our customer base and also impacts the children between 5 and 10 years, who cannot go on the facility without a guardian 18 years and above; an additional third of our business," she said.
"Our team would be unable to adequately supervise patrons wearing a face mask let alone wearing a face mask in the heat of our summer.
"Being a contact activity if patrons were to wear face masks on the inflatable can you imagine the likelihood of drownings?
"We also service a lot of people with hearing and sight disabilities; face masks take away our ability to support them.
"The sanitisation requirements of the inflatable and life jackets would be environmentally irresponsible given we are on a natural waterway that is used for drinking and irrigation."
Ms North said the blow came on top of a catastrophic summer bushfire crisis and blue-green algae outbreak.
"We were not recognised for the Federal Bushfire Relief Scheme even though Aquazone lost 46 per cent of its trade directly impacted by the bushfires," Ms North said.
"We had 26 days in our peak period impacted between December 2019 and January 2020."
But Ms North remained upbeat about the future.
"We'll be back next year with a few surprises up our sleeve!" she said.
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.