Grampians tourism: visitors return after fire

TOURISTS supported Halls Gap and the Grampians by visiting the area during the Australia Day long weekend.

Halls Gap Tourism chairman Geoff Watts said it was pleasing to see visitors after the mountains were hit by this month's devastating bushfire.

"It was a bit mixed throughout the town some businesses were full and others were empty," he said.

"A lot of people did cancel trips because of the fires but others didn't."

Mr Watts said good numbers showed people's support for the area.

"Everyone knows about the fires, but lots of people said they didn't care and were coming back anyway," he said.

Mr Watts said large bushfires could be devastating for the Grampians.

"In 2006, it nearly crippled the place," he said. "But we learn a lot from previous events."

Grampians Tourism chief executive Will Flamsteed said the group asked people to visit and people responded.

"It was a positive exercise," he said.

"There were quite a few people around."

Mr Flamsteed said he was still tallying figures and how they compared with this time last year.

"It was really heartening to see people in and around the region," he said.

Grampians Tourism received support from people across the country via social media.

"That was how we communicated with people and asked them to come back and visit," Mr Flamsteed said.

"We have seen a lot of support and many people have said they haven't forgotten us."

Mr Flamsteed said tourism in the region contributed $950 million to the economy.

"If we lose a month of bookings, we lose up to 10 per cent in annual takings," he said.

"Tourism affects different parts of the economy and a drop in tourism can have a big impact across the region."

Mr Flamsteed said parts of the Grampians National Park were still closed.

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