Anglesea traders have felt the heat this summer with a 30 to 40 per cent drop in sales due to Great Ocean Road bushfires, according to local businesses.
Business and Tourism Anglesea president Raylene Fordham said initial road closures after the fires had hurt local trade.
A lack of understanding among visitors and day-trippers about the Anglesea’s proximity to the fire also hurt, she said.
“Trade has certainly dropped this summer. The day the road reopened, traffic increased fourfold.
“We also didn’t have the day trippers we normally get through Anglesea, probably because they’ve found another destination not having really understood the locality of the fires.
“Normally we have people walking in who haven’t pre-booked and sometimes we’ll be answering phone calls all day. We haven’t had that this year.
“Traffic also hasn’t been a madhouse like it usually would be. For example, you can get a car spot at the beach fairly easily.”
Ms Fordham noted an instant change in tempo after the ocean roads reopened last week.
“Officials made the right decision to protect lives by closing the roads but I think somehow their message was misunderstood, which is difficult for a region that relies on a peak season that only lasts three weeks.
“Traders feel like it’s picking back up and we’re hoping it will continue to return to normal as we prepare to host the Anglesea Music Festival, Riverbank Market and a carnival throughout the rest of summer.”
Tourism centres away from the fires, such as Barwon Heads, reported surging business.
Barwon Heads Traders and Tourism Association’s Bernard Napthine said some traders had “never seen the town so busy”.
“It’s difficult to measure the reasons for it being busier this year but I think it’s a combination of the warm weather, new developments in Armstrong Creek and Warralily and the bushfires along Great Ocean Road,” he said.
“We’re hoping this busy period will flow through to Easter, especially with the upcoming Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.”
Originally published at Geelong Independent.