June 11, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo

After a day of foul weather including gale-force winds that uprooted trees, damaged buildings, injured people and left more than 250,000 homes and businesses blacked out,  Melbourne woke out of lockdown today.

However for another seven days Melburnians cannot venture more than 25km from home, an edict that effectively shuts down the traditional Queen’s Birthday long weekend winter break for Victorians and for the struggling hospitality and tourism industries.

Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Lorne and the Surf Coast are popular destinations and provide a winter boost for regional hospitality venues and service providers.  It also marks the start of the ski season which was cancelled last year, and its beginning this year will be muted by the lack of city visitors, despite a solid dump of snow on and beyond the alps.

Greater Melbourne had been locked down for a total 183 days – exactly half a year – since the first COVID lockdown on March 27, 2020. Residents have faced some form of COVID restriction for more than 300 days.

Last week the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), a peak body for the state’s tourism and events industries, surveyed members who reported that the majority expected to lose thousands of dollars in cancelled bookings over the long weekend.

Chris Porter, VTIC’s head of operations, said the Council’s 2,000 members were spread across the accommodation, events, attractions, tour and transport, destination and tourism services sectors.

He said they represented businesses large and small and the survey revealed 55 percent would forfeit up to $50,000, while 20 percent estimated lost revenue of more than $50,000.

Chis Porter said operators also reported estimated losses expected for food purchased in anticipation of the long weekend: 53 percent said it would cost them less than $1,000, 24 percent said losses would run between $1,000 to $5,000, 10 percent said $5,000 to $10,000 and a further 10 percent totalled their loss at $10,000 to $50,000.

Top image: A deserted Flinders Street Station in Melbourne during the latest lockdown