Families bucking the Queensland trip trend flocked to the coast this weekend with tourism operators expecting a busier than usual school holidays.
Coronavirus cases detected on the South Coast as recently as September 13 failed to deter holidaymakers, with accommodation providers, including Abode Hotels in Malua Bay, reporting near max capacity.
The 50-room hotel on Malua Bay Beach filled all its beds within six days of opening in March, with occupancy levels staying high throughout the pandemic.
Directly below Abode, the Ng family were preparing for their spring holiday resurrection, after fire tore through their restaurant at its former Malua Bar club location on New Year's Eve.
Emily Ng has moved from Sydney with her partner to help her parents - who are aged 75 and 67, respectively - open these school holidays to take advantage of the Canberra crowds.
Serving Chinese food in Malua and Batemans Bay for more than 30 years, the Ng family were forced to start again when fire devastated the venue on what should've been their busiest day of the year.
"Dad had gone in early to prepare everything for that night like he usually would," Ms Ng said.
"The club burnt down at around 10.15am that day. I think he left at around 9.30am."
Ms Ng said since announcing the family were returning to the South Coast dining scene they had been overwhelmed by support from the community, many with incomes also reliant on tourism.
Nationally, the number of jobs in the tourism industry fell 15.1 per cent in the year ending June 2020, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Friday.
The latest data showed tourism had been impacted more severely than the economy as a whole, where filled jobs fell 5.1 per cent in the same period.
Eurobodalla Shire Council tourism manager Tim Booth said businesses were eager to welcome visitors back and while the region hadn't advertised in Sydney in the lead-up to the holidays, they wouldn't be discriminating based on postcodes.
"For anyone who's thinking of coming just remember to stay COVID-safe, social distance and pre-plan as much as possible," Mr Booth said.
"All the hospitality venues will have the contact tracing measures up and running, an expectation of hand sanitisation on entry and the ability to maintain 1.5 metre distances."
Mr Booth said the most recent gauge of self-contained unit occupancy had put them at more than 60 per cent these holidays and around 90 per cent over summer.
Airbnb Australia manager Susan Wheeldon said interest had surged for regional areas within driving distance of major cities.
"And that includes places along the NSW South Coast," Ms Wheeldon said.
"Given so many of us have spent the last few months being cooped up at home, we've definitely seen a surge in popularity for listings that bring guests close to nature."
Scott Caver operates Lakesea Caravan Park Durras, about 20 kilometres north of Batemans Bay.
Mr Caver said October was on track for higher turnout than 2019 for several parks, with camping and caravan travel on the rise. Mr Caver said Lakesea's cabin bookings had increased 15 per cent and campsites 21 per cent.
"It's just gone gangbusters, which is great," Mr Caver said.
"A few weeks ago it wasn't a great vibe in terms of those bigger areas, in the centre of Batemans Bay it was all a bit doom and gloom."
Mr Caver said several business owners he spoke to had really struggled, with retailers some of the worst hit.
"They're really hoping these holidays are going to turn things around for them," Mr Caver said.
ACT Health encouraged Canberrans who planned to travel outside the territory for the school holidays to avoid COVID-affected areas.