VISITORS have packed out accommodation and tourist attractions in the Liverpool Plains shire, bringing a welcome boost to the economy.
Werris Creek's Rail Journeys Museum, Willow Tree's Plains Pantry, and the Quirindi Sunflower Motor Inn all reported an increase in visitor numbers.
Liverpool Plains Shire Council (LPSC) mayor Doug Hawkins said it was desperately needed off the back of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Cr Hawkins said there was a "huge downturn" because of the pandemic and border closures, so it was "extremely encouraging to see so many people on the move and visiting us once again".
"Both what I've seen when out and about, and comments from operators of tourism-related businesses, including accommodation, food and attractions, has been heartening," he said.
Hannah Shaw from the Plains Pantry said the holidays were probably the best numbers the store had seen since the onset of COVID-19.
"People have been wanting to get away and with no lockdowns and all borders open, this has been the best opportunity they've had over the last 14 months and so many took this opportunity to have a well-earned break," she said.
Owners of the motor inn, Tina and Jules, said there were excellent occupancy rates during this time.
"We've had a great cross section of people staying with us: families, visitors, industrial workers and a few people who've come to check out the sorghum crops now the sunflowers are no longer in bloom. It's been very good and encouraging with these numbers," Tina said.
"We've added a light show in our gardens and intend to add some smaller farm animals for the enjoyment of visitors and their kids. We really want to value add, to encourage people to come and stay with us, and at the same time have a base from which to experience this beautiful rural community from the Great Dividing Range to the fertile agricultural areas to the west."
Cr Hawkins said it was also good news at the Wallabadah and Werris Creek freedom camping areas and the Quirindi Caravan Park.
There'd been a steady stream of visitors through the Visitor Information Centre at Willow Tree seeking out things to do, as well.
"This is not only good news for the operators of these facilities, but also for other businesses that benefit from the injection these visitors provide to the local economy," he said.
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