Tourism drops as virus spreads

WITH the effects of COVID-19 (coronavirus) becoming more widespread, regional towns are starting to feel the impact.

Founder and operator of Sea Lake Tyrrell Tours Julie Pringle said she had already seen a 30 per cent reduction in visitation compared to this time last year.

"A lot of people are very nervous and we're not seeing the same amount of bookings," Ms Pringle told The Guardian.

"We're already down 30 per cent from the same time last year.

"The coronavirus is really knocking the whole economy around from airfares to domestic travel."

Once a ghost town, Sea Lake has transformed in the past five years, and is now known as a popular "multicultural destination" being home to Victoria's largest salt lake.

The resurgance of the town has included the reopening of the Sea Lake Royal Hotel, silo art added to the Silo Art Trail and sunset, sunrise and night tours now operating seven days per week.

"It's quite sad as we've all worked very hard on tourism in the past five years and it's a bit disheartening to see the numbers drop," Ms Pringle said.

"We get a lot of Chinese and Indian visitors but it's really become a multicultural destination.

"We hope we can keep it coming as a lot of effort has been put into this town and the community has embraced it as a whole."

Ms Pringle said while numbers were currently down, the town hopes to see tourism increase again in the coming months.

"Hopefully we will gain a lot more over Easter, it will be interesting to see what happens," she said.

"But at this stage it seems to be getting worse and worse each day.

"All we can do is stay strong and keep our heads up."