SOUTH Gippsland has again been regarded as a popular place to spend summer, according to the hoards of holiday-makers who have flocked to the area.
Many Victorian and interstate travellers have made our district their temporary home, along with a large number of international tourists who have no doubt heard of the many virtues of the area.
Danielle Todaro of Prom Country Regional Tourism was pleased to inform The Mirror that the number of visitors making enquiries in person at the Foster Visitors Centre between Boxing Day and January 13 was slightly up on the figure for the same period last year. Further down the road at the Korumburra Visitors Centre, the figures were also very pleasing.
“It has been really busy at both centres since Christmas with a huge number of walk-ins, email and phone enquiries,” said John Grenville of Prom country Regional Tourism.
John has been on deck at both centres and said that at Foster in particular there has been a large influx of international visitors mainly from western European countries including Germany, Switzerland and France along with visitors from the US, Canada and New Zealand.
“In addition to seeking advice on attractions, there has a huge volume of requests for all types of accommodation – from tent sites to units, cottages, units and motel rooms,” he said.
Accommodation at Wilsons Promontory has been near-to-impossible to secure for those who didn’t book ahead and the number of day visitors to the national park has also been very high.
Accommodation for the Australia Day long weekend is booking up quickly and John urges everyone to start thinking about making arrangements Easter.
“As Easter begin this year in March, it is very likely that the weather will be fantastic, so best not to leave accommodation arrangements until the last minute,” he advised.
John Davies of Warrawee Holiday Units and the YHA Hostel in Foster has been very pleased with the high number of bookings which go right through to the long weekend and into February.
Toora Caravan Park has been very busy for the last few weeks and the Australia Day weekend is already shaping up to be incredibly busy.
The need for food, meals and refreshments is high on the list of priorities for holiday-makers. The Exchange Hotel in Foster has done very brisk trade which will no doubt carry on until well after the long weekend and into February. Rick Bromley of Bromley’s Cafe seen the busy season start a little later this time, but he said that once it really got into full swing, it has kept up momentum, with the last two weeks being extremely busy.
Steve Webber of IGA Liquor said trade has been absolutely awesome throughout the season and is still pretty steady.
“Things usually start slowing down this week but there’s been no sign of that yet at all,” said Dezzy of Dezzy and Nic’s Takeaway in Foster.
“Trade throughout the season has been fabulous and this week even though things may be starting to calm down a little, is still up on the same week last year,” said Dale McLaughlan, manager of IGA Foster.
“It’s been frantically busy and I’m also really proud of my staff who have been terrific under so much pressure,” he added.
Dale said that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day created a new record for the store and much of it has been due to the great numbers of tourists to the area with perhaps every third person you speak to in the store having an accent.
“I’m really proud of the locals who have all been very understanding of how frantic is has been – there hasn’t been a single complaint and it’s all been very positive,” he said.
Deborah Harris of Main Street Revelations has also noticed a great increase in the numbers of interstate and European and said it is possibly attributable to the great work done in promoting the area by Prom Coast Regional Tourism, Tourism Victoria and Destination Gippsland – all of whom have helped put South Gippsland firmly on the map.
“The locals have been fantastic in welcoming everyone to their town and have really adjusted well to there being such a sudden temporary increase in the population,” she said.
Deborah was pleased to see that Christmas Eve was the most successful trading day in the store’s history – beating the second most successful day – that of the Foster Street Party on December 21.
Toora and Foster swimming pools have been extremely popular places to be and are a great escape during sweltering days.
Loc Roberts of Foster Swimming Pool said that 1938 people visited the pool in December alone and January has so far been busy also.
“The first week after the new year was really busy, especially that incredibly hot day when we had 420 people visit the pool,” said Carol Bennett of Toora Swimming Pool.
“It’s still busy,” she said. “Yesterday there were 330, the day before 200 and 250 the day before that,” she added.
Many families and visitors have escaped the heat with a visit to the Foster Historical Museum and attendances this season have been virtually identical to the same period last year. At only $5 adult admission, $4 concession, children 50 cents and family ticket $10, it’s a wonderful place to while away a few hours escaping the heat and a great opportunity to find out about the history of our beautiful district.