ONE strong weekend of hotel bookings will not end pandemic pain, the Bendigo Motels Association has warned.
The comments came on the final day of the Easter long-weekend, and as new data cast new light on the damage coronavirus restrictions inflicted on Bendigo Loddon's tourism industry.
BMA members were more or less fully booked out on Saturday and Sunday night, president Kristyn Slattery said.
"It's certainly more positive when we have weekends like this," she said.
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Ms Slattery's comments were tempered by the number of empty rooms her members reported on Friday night.
"And one weekend does not fix six months of disaster and 12 of a pandemic," she said.
Tourism Research Australia has revealed new details of the damage done to the Bendigo Loddon region's visitor economy.
The region includes Maryborough, Castlemaine, Heathcote and the Loddon area.
Its research shows that the Bendigo Loddon was hit harder than both the national and regional Victorian average.
The number of people staying in the Bendigo Loddon region on overnight trips plummeted 52 per cent in 2020 to 623,000.
That included a 61 per cent drop in the number of people visiting for a holiday or leisure and a 45 per cent fall in those visiting friends and relatives.
Bendigo Loddon's day tripper numbers fell by 52 per cent to 525,000.
Nationally, overnight trips dropped by 38 per cent, while in regional Victoria they fell 44 per cent.
Regional Australia fared better than metropolitan areas in the December quarter, Tourism Research Australia found.
It was the first time that had happened, but included a period in which Melbourne was yet to ease out of a stringent lockdown.
Bendigo accommodation providers are still working out their "new normal" as the pandemic eases and have been reporting few bookings on weekends that did not include major events, Ms Slattery said.
Strong Easter weekend bookings were a sign that the recovery was beginning, though.
"And next Saturday it looks like we may be all booked out too," Ms Slattery said, mostly because of a junior basketball competition to be held in Bendigo next weekend.
More major events, ongoing vaccination roll-outs and the embrace of suburb-wide lockdowns instead of Victoria-wide ones would help operators find their new normal, Ms Slattery said.
She encouraged people to book accommodation directly with operators or local tourism groups rather than through websites, which helped keep profits in hard-hit communities.
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