RESTAURANTS and accommodation hot spots across the region are busy preparing for the return of visitors thanks to a ban on regional travel being lifted by the state government.
From June 1, tourists will be allowed to travel and stay anywhere in regional NSW, which is expected to offer a major boost to the economy.
One of the region's most popular destinations, Graze Willow Tree Inn, has already begun filling its reservation book.
Hotel manager Sonia Marshman said her team was eager to welcome back visitors.
"Obviously it is great to be open as a regional centre, but to be able to have people come and stay is going to make a big difference," Ms Marshman told the Leader.
"We've had a really good response from our locals and the restaurant is booked out for the next week or so.
"Moving forward, the ability to move around the state will make a huge difference and we are already taking bookings."
Ms Marshman said while the coronavirus-enforced lockdown had been tough on her business, it had provided new opportunities.
"We were able to take the opportunity to utilise that time to do some refurbishing, train new staff and do anything we could that would benefit us when we were allowed to open again," she said.
"During the lockdown, we still had our accommodation, we had take-away meals and our Colly Creek Beef, which is only sold through us, provided some great opportunities as well.
"In fact, one of our most popular things during the lockdown was being able to sell our beef direct to the public."
In a further boost to the industry, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the restrictions surrounding the limit of 10 patrons in restaurants may soon be lifted.
"We"re working with industry on that very issue as we speak, and I wouldn't rule that out," she said.
"I would anticipate that the government would have more to say on the future of restaurants and bars in June and July in the very near future."
Business NSW regional manager Joe Townsend said easing the travel and restaurant restrictions was crucial to helping regional businesses stay afloat.
"I think the ban's lifting coincides with hospitality and cafes being allowed to increase to 20 in-house dining patrons, which will be a major boost," Mr Townsend said.
"Without the restaurants being able to do that, it makes it very hard to attract visitors to stay in the regions."
Mr Townsend said he was confident visitors would jump at the chance to visit regional areas of NSW.
"Our statistics show, domestic-overnight visitors increased by 30 per cent from 2018 to 2019," he said.
"Of those visitors, we had 1.7 million come to the New England, North West region.
"To go from that high to practically nothing during lockdown, I think it would have left a lot of people feeling vacant and ready to return."