COVID-19, July school holidays: Tourists flocked to the Central West to stay | Photos, pictures

HOLIDAY TIME: Families flocked to Cowra, Forbes and Parkes for the July school holidays.
HOLIDAY TIME: Families flocked to Cowra, Forbes and Parkes for the July school holidays.

VICTORIA'S loss might be the Central West's gain with visitors flocking to the region for a bumper school holiday break.

Tourist sites in Cowra, Parkes and Forbes reported high visitor numbers, with many people coming to this area for the first time.

At the Cowra Japanese Gardens, manager Shane Budge said the fact that the region is perceived as "COVID safe" was definitely a bonus.

While COVID-19 cases might increasing in Sydney and Victoria, there have been no virus cases in the Western NSW Local Health District for more than three months.

"The school holidays went very well for us with lots of visitors from all over and a lot from Sydney and Canberra ... the visitation from Sydney increased," Mr Budge said.

"[It] was much better than the previous year as far as visitation went.

HOLIDAY TIME: Cowra Japanese Gardens manager Shane Budge said the fact that the region is perceived as "COVID safe" was a bonus during the July school holidays. Photo: KELSEY SUTOR

HOLIDAY TIME: Cowra Japanese Gardens manager Shane Budge said the fact that the region is perceived as "COVID safe" was a bonus during the July school holidays. Photo: KELSEY SUTOR

"People are coming out and saying 'wow, I didn't realise all this was out here' ... it's opened up people's eyes to what's here."

Mr Budge was hopeful that continuing international travel restrictions and changes in state border regulations would continue to benefit the Central West's tourism sector.

"Hopefully this will be good in the long term and people will realise there's a lot in the country that they can see," he said.

While the visitor numbers were positive, Mr Budge said some visitors were complacent when it came to social distancing measures.

We used to say that people thought there was nothing beyond the Great Dividing Range except Perth.

McFeeters Motor Museum's Jill Kay

"When you get a lot of people who want to walk through the front door at once, sometimes people need to be a bit more responsible for themselves, you can't physically stop people from walking into another person's space," he said.

"You kind of hold your breath as people come through."

At the CSIRO Parkes Observatory, visitor centre co-ordinator Tricia Trim said it was also very busy.

BUSY TIME: CSIRO Parkes radio telescope visitor centre's Lyn Milgate and co-ordinator Tricia Trim said they had a very busy school holidays at the tourist site. Photo: JOHN SARKISSIAN

BUSY TIME: CSIRO Parkes radio telescope visitor centre's Lyn Milgate and co-ordinator Tricia Trim said they had a very busy school holidays at the tourist site. Photo: JOHN SARKISSIAN

"We're extremely busy, we were very, very happy with the whole two weeks of the school holidays," she said.

"We had lots of families visit who enjoyed the Astro Kids Scavange Hunt and the 3D theatre; we also had lots of grey nomads. People are back on the road and travelling.

"Compared to a normal July school holidays we were up ... it's good for people to come and see what we can offer regionally."

The Dish was closed for 3.5 months due to the pandemic and it opened up just in time for the July school holidays.

"Our staff really enjoyed having people back in and welcoming them in," Ms Trim said.

"We had lots of new policies and procedures in place because of COVID ... it ran very smoothly and everyone was very willing to follow our procedures."

While visitors flocked to the McFeeters Motor Museum in Forbes, numbers were slightly down.

HOLIDAY FUN: McFeeters Motor Museum's Jill Kay said travel restrictions at the Victorian-NSW border impacted tourist numbers in Forbes during the school holidays Photo: BRENDAN MCCOOL

HOLIDAY FUN: McFeeters Motor Museum's Jill Kay said travel restrictions at the Victorian-NSW border impacted tourist numbers in Forbes during the school holidays Photo: BRENDAN MCCOOL

"Our numbers relate to Victorians travelling to Queensland at this time of year," museum spokeswoman Jill Kay said.

"But, we were pleased with the school holidays because we were closed for 10 weeks."

Ms Kay said they also had a surge in visitors from Sydney and Canberra which was unusual.

"We used to say that people thought there was nothing beyond the Great Dividing Range except Perth," she said.

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