Visitors flock to the south coast bringing a boost to the local economy

Visitors welcome: The Fleurieu's three councils have welcomed visitors back to the region, with great results evident last weekend. Photo: Michael Simmons.
Visitors welcome: The Fleurieu's three councils have welcomed visitors back to the region, with great results evident last weekend. Photo: Michael Simmons.

Visitors and tourists have returned to the Fleurieu Peninsula in force, following the region's official re-opening.

The Fleurieu's three mayors recently welcomed visitors back with open arms, and with Coronavirus restrictions beginning to wind down, they have not been left disappointed by the response.

Thousands have flocked to the south coast over the last two weekends, making the most of some sunny autumn weather for outdoor recreation.

Coastal bakeries, restaurants and accommodation parks have been the big winners, receiving a much-needed boost in business, following months of minimal trading due to the effects of COVID-19.

District Council of Yankalilla CEO Nigel Morris said the wave of visitors was important to the economic recovery of the region.

"We were pleased to see the large amount of day trippers and visitors staying in accommodation over the weekend that supported our local businesses," Mr Morris said.

"We've been told by some of our food businesses that trade on Saturday (May 16) was good, but Sunday was particularly busy and comparable to January trade.

"The accommodation sector has seen a big improvement with operators in Second Valley telling us they were booked out for the weekend and have seen a huge improvement in forward bookings.

"Accommodation operators in Normanville said they have gone from one or two bookings to operating at 50 per cent capacity."

In Victor Harbor, there have been similar scenes, with Ocean Street and surrounds being reinvigorated by foot traffic.

"Both locals and visitors were out in force taking advantage of the wonderful weather and the chance to be outdoors," said a City of Victor Harbor spokesperson.

"There is no doubt that tourism is going to play an important part in our local economic recovery. We need visitors to provide our businesses with a much needed boost.

"Local food businesses should be commended for how they managed increased trade within the government restrictions.

"Our businesses have been quick to adapt and put things in place to keep their staff and customers safe, and the council will continue to support them navigate these unprecedented times where we can."

Causing some issues, are restrictions on dining numbers, with many cafe's quickly reaching a 10 person outdoor dining capacity.

For the most part though, businesses have been succeeding in managing social distancing and hygiene requirements, but there have been reports of customers failing to do the right thing.

Individuals and groups - especially those lining up outside eateries - across the region were given warnings on their responsibilities to social distance and police patrols were present at some locations.

Mr Morris said the District Council of Yankalilla would continue to stress the importance of social distancing requirements

"We are told by local businesses that most people have been complying with social distancing, although the occasional reminder to people waiting in line was required.

"Similarly, managing the limited outdoor dining spaces to 10 people can be a challenge.

"We are impressed with visitor's ingenuity, on Sunday Normanville Foreshore was full of people who came prepared with their own picnic tables and chairs to enjoy the sunshine and the view.

"We ask that visitors and locals be patient while our businesses prepare to scale up. Rostering can be a challenge for these businesses when such a quick increase happens, but they are doing their best to manage this."

While this new wave of visitors to the region is being hailed as a victory in the battle to re-invigorate the south coast economy, Mr Morris said there was still much to be done.

He said more support for businesses would be needed to overcome the downturn brought upon by COVID-19.

"Some businesses have been able to keep people employed with the assistance of Jobkeeper but are still not in a position to reengage stood-down employees as their capacity is still limited by the important restriction that are in place to keep us all safe," Mr Morris said.