Grampians cafes and accommodation are set for a bumper Queen's Birthday long weekend with up to 4000 visitors heading to the Wimmera to escape the city.
Grampian's Tourism Chief Executive Officer Marc Sleeman said it was "game on" for the area as it sought to rebuild after a two-month COVID-19 lockdown.
Melbourne visitors were driving bookings in the region, with the area fully booked taking into account current restrictions.
Campsites with communal areas, such as shared bathrooms and kitchens, remain closed as they may increase the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The influx for the three-day June break - which is normally around 4000 visitors - could be a $1.2 million economic boost for tourism operators in the Grampians region. Each visitor spends an average of $100 a day.
"Melbourne people are looking for a place to escape, a space to breathe [after the COVID-19 lockdown]," Mr Sleeman said.
"It's shaping up to be a very good weekend."
Cafes, pubs and shops across the area - including Halls Gap, Ararat, Stawell and Horsham - were opening their doors and putting in place social distancing measures.
Ararat Rural City Council said it would continue its support of local businesses recovering from the pandemic by encouraging tourists and travellers to stop for a break in Ararat.
The council plans to place electronic signs on High and Barkly Streets that read: "Stop for a bite to eat and support local business."
Northern Grampians Shire is planning similar signage due to the visitor numbers.
"Council will set up a Variable Message Sign (VMS) near the police station in Halls Gap over the long weekend as visitor numbers are expected to be high," mayor Cr Murray Emerson said.
"The sign will welcome visitors to our region and also inform visitors that due to COVID-19 restrictions, services in Halls Gap may be limited.
"Our local businesses have done a wonderful job modifying services and ways of doing business in order to meet the COVID-19 operating requirements. We ask visitors and locals alike to be supportive, caring, and kind this Queen's Birthday long weekend."
Mr Sleeman said he could sense some anxiety among locals at the coming weekend's rise in tourist numbers, but they were aware how the visitor economy to the area had been hit by the coronavirus lockdown.
"Particularly in the Grampians it's mum and dad operators who are looking to rebuild, so they are committed to that," he said.
The three-day public holiday - the first since travel restrictions were eased following the COVID-19 lockdown - would be the early shoots of recovery.
Mr Sleeman said Grampians Tourism's strategy longer-term was focused on the visiting friends and relatives market, which was 30 per cent of the total visitor numbers to the area.
It would also target "high value travellers" at the luxury end of the market, nature tourism and the 34,000 hikers expected on the Grampians Peaks Trail when it opened later this year.
"Locals can help us by getting friends and family here to spend locally," Mr Sleeman said.
Halls Gaps businesswoman and chef Carly Flexnoe said the town was getting ready for tourists to arrive.
"All reports, including for our accommodation, are that bookings have been fantastic," Ms Flexnoe said.
"All the retail stores on Heath St will be open - Russ Studios, Grampians Wine Cellars, Dot and Frankie."
Ms Flexnoe said Harvest Halls Gap - her cafe and provedore - had permanently closed its doors as the social distancing regulations mean the current business model and layout "weren't financially viable".
However she plans to open a pizzeria at Harvest's Heath St site which would be more takeaway friendly, "which is an exciting change".
"After interior renovations, we hope to be open in September as Raccolto, a Neopolitan woodfired pizzeria," Ms Flexnoe said.
Mr Sleeman said he had so far heard of three businesses in the Grampians - two shops and one accommodation - which would not re-open.
Boroka Downs operator Bob Adams said that his accommodation was booked out and he had been directing inquiries to other accommodation operators in the area.
He said it was good to reopen the business - based at Birdswing Road, Pomonal - to get some money flowing in and provide work for his casual employees.
Boroka Downs offers five luxury fully self-catering cabins for couples. "It's one couple, so social distancing is easy," Mr Adams said.
He said his bookings for June were strong, but then they dropped off.
Mr Adms believed visitors were waiting to see what was open and how many tourism operators were "back to normal" when they were in the area at the weekend.
"If they can't get into cafes or cellars or attractions that might have an impact," he said.
Mr Adams urged people to be "patient" as eateries and attractions would be busy and implementing new social distancing requirements at the same time.