FAMILIES catching up with loved ones over Christmas and an international tennis tournament have been credited for the increase in Bendigo's motel bookings.
Bendigo Motels Association president Kristyn Slattery said after two years of lockdowns and restrictions, it was nice for the sector to have a boost.
"Its actually been amazing," she said. "People have been moving around again. Lots of us have been visiting family and friends for Christmas and New Year's.
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"There have been a few minor cancellations with some people nervous more about border closures than anything else. But bookings have been really strong across the board."
Ms Slattery said the motels association had to activate its bed bank system over the past fortnight. The bed bank allows overbooked motels to divert customers to other motels in the area.
"It's been fantastic," she said. "It's been exciting to activate that after such a long time. Having the tennis in town has been great.
"A lot of us have had tennis players and officials, so other motels have had the overflow of other people visiting."
Demand was drying up though, Ms Slattery said, with most motels at about 50 per cent capacity at the weekend.
"We're having the conversation now about having these cancellations," she said. "Some people are cancelling trips because of the anxiety around travel.
"Others are cancelling because people in their household have COVID or are close contacts. It's going to have a negative impact on bookings as we continue.
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"It's only going to get worse before it gets better. But we're confident it will pass in the coming weeks and then things will even out again."
Ms Slattery said the uncertainty only highlighted how important it was to book directly through motels or local travel agents rather than larger corporations.
"Booking direct offers the most flexibility, especially if you need to cancel at the last minute," she said.
"People should still plan to travel - there are no travel restrictions in place. Motels are held to a high standard and we have COVID safe plans in place.
"When you arrive, you drive straight to your door so you're not spending time in lifts or shared corridors. Motels certainly offer a safe environment."
Ms Slattery said motels were feeling somewhat optimistic with the upcoming large events like the Bendigo Art Gallery's Elvis exhibition and the Easter Fair.
"We're already seeing reservations," she said.
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