LOCAL government and tourism bodies are telling would-be tourists not to visit the region this Easter.
The Grampians and surrounding regions normally attract up to about 8000 visitors over the Easter long weekend but Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Tim Harrison said the council was taking the "unusual" step of discouraging visitors due to the coronavirus crisis.
"The Premier has made it pretty clear that holiday making is not one of the things that's approved under the stay at home rules," he said.
"We appreciate that will have a big impact on our economy and local operators, but it is about people staying safe and staying home."
Northern Grampians Shire Council mayor Murray Emerson said the tourists would be missed but community health was the priority.
"In regular years, the Easter holiday is one of the busiest times of the year for our region," he said.
"However, this year we need people to stay home and not make their usual trip to the region. Our health services are top-notch but not built for a COVID-19 outbreak among a large number of people.
"I also urge residents in the Northern Grampians to stay put and find new and different ways to connect with friends and family over Easter."
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said holiday home-owners should also stay away to avoid the risk of a large outbreak of coronavirus.
"Halls Gap has a very big holiday home ratio and our health care system will not be able to manage a major influx of holiday home owners in that period," he said.
Local businesses will miss out on the major economic boost that comes with one of the busiest periods of the year, but Mr Sleeman said they would be really well positioned to bounce back once restrictions were lifted.
In other news:
"If we can discourage visitation and get to the other side much faster, we'll be able to help businesses (recover)," he said.
"(Once restrictions are lifted) people will be looking to escape the cities, looking for wildlife and big nature, and the Grampians region will be really well positioned to provide that.
"We will return to being pretty strong very quickly so we need to ensure we get as many businesses as we can to survive through this period. Then when we're given the green light we will be ready to roll."
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from the Ararat Advertiser. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from Ararat and districts, sign up here.