In a case of perfect timing for the South Coast tourism industry whale season is set to start in early June just as regional travel is once again permitted in NSW.
Matt Cross, of Dolphin Watch Cruises, said whale and dolphin watching cruises will begin again after a two month break from June 1 after the NSW Government announced the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Mr Cross said tourism infrastructure in the northern parts of the Shoalhaven was left relatively undamaged by the devastating summer of fire.
And by opening as soon as they can tourist operators will help inject some much needed money back into the regional economy.
"The plan is we will start cruising again under the guidelines given us by the State Government," Mr Cross said.
"It will be limited capacity. Operating with 10 people on a reasonable size boat means you won't make any money but it is the start of tourism returning to the South Coast".
Mr Cross said Dolphin Watch Cruises and other tourism operators around Huskisson, such as cafes, hotels and bars, are expecting restrictions will be lifted to 20 people during June. And they are eager to open to cater for larger gatherings safely when they can.
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Mr Cross said you have to start somewhere. And with visitors returning to the Shoalhaven in June operators believe it will be the beginning of a strong second half of the year for businesses and the local economy.
"It is almost like reinventing tourism again," he said.
"Initially we will be cruising on weekends, the June long weekend and school holiday periods. And mid week is likely to be subject to demand.
"Dolphin Watch Cruises has been operating 30 years and history tells us whale season starts again from late May or early June until the middle of November.
"11 to 13 per cent is the estimated annual increase in whales. So there is no reason we won't see whales when we start cruising again.
"Dolphin watching is all year round and I expect Dolphin Watch Cruises will be offering whale watching when we reopen the doors in early June. ".
Mr Cross expected the June long weekend will attract many visitors back to all parts of the South Coast as it recovers from the devastating summer of fire followed by regional travel restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 lockdown.
"If we have bright sunny weather on the first weekend in June I expect it to be busy," he said.
"And that will pump some much needed money back into the South Coast economy".
The NSW Government announcement coincides with a new Spend Here This Year social campaign on the Visit Shoalhaven Facebook page which has already had 50,000 likes.
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