Canberra's hotels have been struck by cancellations as restrictions on travellers from Sydney leave thousands scrambling to rearrange their Christmas plans.
Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Anthony Brierley said there had been a "run" of booking cancellations after the government on Sunday announced quarantine requirements on travellers from Sydney and the surrounding regions amid concerns about the growing northern beaches outbreak.
A further 15 cases were reported on Monday, bringing the total number linked to the cluster to 83.
Mr Brierley said more booking cancellations were expected in the coming days as hotels proactively contacted guests about their travel plans.
"It is too early to quantify the impact on hotel occupancies over the next fortnight, but it will be significant," Mr Brierley said.
"This is the distressing reality of doing business in a COVID-exposed industry: even the most promising green shoots of recovery can wither in an instant."
The ACT government's swift response to the northern beaches cluster is a setback for Canberra's hotel and tourism sector, which had shown signs of recovery after being decimated in the early months of the pandemic.
The National Dinosaur Museum is one of the small businesses affected by the ban on travellers from the Sydney region.
Manager David Barker said the museum had refunded more than $5000 in bookings on Monday from travellers who were forced to cancel their plans.
Mr Barker expected that would mean a $10,000 loss in revenue once foregone spending at the museum's shops was factored in.
"You look at the bookings and think it's all confirmed and we've just given it all back again," Mr Barker said.
The latest booking cancelled so far was for January 4, but he expected the losses would mount if the restrictions continue.
"We're just one small business, it will be the same for all small businesses," he said. "We've put all the staff on two weeks in advance, expecting it to be busy, now it won't be."
On top of the cancelled bookings, the museum was on Monday dealing with yet another example of senseless vandalism after six dinosaurs were either damaged or removed from the Gold Creek grounds on Sunday night.
Three severed arms, a small stegosaurus and a statue were recovered inside the Gold Creek Golf Course, making it likely the damaged models will be able to be repaired.
Canberra Region Leaders Forum chair David Marshall said the northern beaches outbreak, which has prompted states to re-impose harsh border restrictions in the midst of the festive period, had "knocked the stuffing out of the industry".
"The biggest issue is confidence," Mr Marshall said.
"People are nervous. They are nervous that if they travel, will they be able to get home. If they are pre-paying for accommodation, will they be able to get a refund."
With Sydneysiders effectively banned from visiting the ACT, Mr Brierley urged Canberrans to support the local hospitality industry.