Alpine businesses desperate for a strong winter to make up for 2020's disastrous four-day snow season have experienced a massive blow with Melburnians unable to travel for opening weekend.
Last week, Victoria's Acting Premier James Merlino said even if Melbourne's lockdown is lifted, Melburnians will be banned from travelling to regional Victoria for the Queen's Birthday long weekend.
Zirky's Mount Hotham manager Annelies Zirknitzer said every booking she had for the snow season's opening weekend was from Melburnians, who could now no longer attend.
"The impact will be enormous," she said. "I'm hoping by school holidays restrictions will all lift otherwise we'll be in trouble."
Last year the business paid $170,000 in start-up costs, only to close after four days.
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Due to their seasonality, they have been unable to recoup any losses.
"The costs are just rising, the money is going out but we haven't had any going in," she said.
"It feels too much like deja vu [of last winter] at the moment and we can't survive that again."
Due to the Victorian COVID gathering restrictions, Falls Creek Resort Management have had to postpone some traditional opening weekend events like the fireworks show.
Management board chief executive Stuart Smythe said not being able to welcome guests from Melbourne was disappointing but understandable.
"It will be a quiet start to the season without the usual celebrations and social gatherings but we acknowledge it is best for all Victorians for it to be done this way," he said.
"2020 was an extremely challenging time for everyone, but particularly so for our business operators and the Falls Creek community.
"There is much anticipation for the season ahead, with all our businesses keen to bounce back from 2020 and welcome our guests back to Australia's premier winter village."
Tourism North East chief executive Bess Nolan-Cook said it was heartbreaking for Victoria to once again be plunged into lockdown.
She said the outbreak was a timely reminder to get vaccinated which she sees as an important step back to normality.
"Certainly for the alpine region it is critical they're able to welcome visitors back this coming winter," she said.
"2020 was absolutely devastating, but we're cautiously optimistic we will have fantastic winter season."
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