Daylesford businesses are enjoying a renewed sense of confidence and a positive outlook for the future after massive visitor numbers flocked to the town for the Queen's Birthday long weekend.
For many residents and businesses owners, traffic jams and the sheer number of people flowing through the main street was overwhelming after months of peace and quiet during lockdown.
Some say it was the busiest long-weekend they had ever experienced in Daylesford.
Managing visitor numbers in stores and cafes and ensuring people abide by physical distancing has proved a challenge, but leaders are confident appropriate safety measures have been implemented to keep everyone safe.
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The Secret Garden of Daylesford owner Louise Mclachlan said the massive number of visitors to town was a 'shock to the system' after a quiet few months.
She said visitors were welcomed and tourists were a great boost for businesses, but there was some concern about how to monitor and manage the number of people appropriately.
"For me it felt like going from zero to 100. It was tough being inundated so quickly again but it is great for businesses and the town," she said. "I didn't expect this weekend to be like it was. I have spoken to a lot of retailers and we think it has been one of the busiest weekends ever."
Brick Lane Bazaar owner Kate Larsen said it was the store's busiest Queen's Birthday long weekend in eight years.
She said she felt positive and hoped the trend continued into the rest of the year, following months of many days where she made no sales during lockdown.
"We were really thankful to have this weekend to make up for some of the losses we have had over the past two months," Ms Larsen said.
"I know there is concern in the community about tourists coming back, but in the end our economy here in Daylesford relies on the tourists. For us, we are grateful they are coming back and spending as well."
Hepburn Shire Council chief executive Evan King said council welcomed visitors with the easing of restrictions, but encouraged safe and sustainable tourism through compliance with social distancing and good hygiene practices. Council has installed signage at all shire entrances and on rubbish bins in townships reminding visitors to remain COVID safe. Mr King said council had been working with businesses on measures that needed to be put in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
Daylesford Macedon Ranges Tourism chief executive Steve Wroe said operators had been diligent at implementing 'COVID safe strategies', which was important to ensure the region was perceived by tourists as a safe destination.
Mr Wroe said work on the region's tourism recovery plan was ongoing; while pent up demand was strong now, work needed to be done to ensure demand was maintained beyond the first six weeks. The tourism body is working with Visit Victoria on a tourism campaign for Victoria's regions that is expected to be launched in August or September. Mr Wroe said he had submitted a list of key projects to the state government for funding. The priority project on the list is the Daylesford to Hanging Rock rail trail.