THE visitors are coming back, but there is still some ground to make up after the bushfires, smoke and road closures of summer, according to Bathurst Regional Council tourism and visitor services manager Dan Cove.
And he agrees with Abercrombie House's Chris Morgan that the visitors returning to Bathurst are doing so not because they feel it's an obligation, but because it's a journey they want to make.
Mr Cove told the Western Advocate last month that numbers through the door at the visitor centre were down by 35.4 per cent between Boxing Day and New Year's Day compared with 12 months before as bushfires, smoke, heat and road closures made people wary of travelling.
The recovery, however, has been obvious since.
Numbers at the visitor centre from January 15 to 31 were up four per cent compared with 2019, Mr Cove said, and numbers for this month "are comparable to the same period last year so far".
"It is a possibility until the end of summer that potential visitors may remain nervous about travelling," he said.
"We are currently working with our colleagues in Oberon and Lithgow as well as with industry to develop a regional tourism campaign for autumn 2020 to overcome any lingering effects as well as to recover some lost ground from over the summer period."
Mr Cove said potential visitors had received the message that Bathurst was open for business after the avalanche of bad news stories for inland NSW during the summer.
"We have pushed hard on this point [Bathurst being open for business], particularly given the amazing range of events and activities that we have just had and have coming up - from Elton and the 12 Hour to the BMX World Cup, the Bathurst Cup, opening of the Rail Museum and Inland Sea of Sound," he said.
"Great village events such as Sofala's Rebellion on the Turon or the Wattle Flat Bronze Thong are going ahead, demonstrating the resilience of the region as well as its capacity to deliver wonderful experiences from the epic to the quirky.
"People have got the message, but there is still a lingering effect, almost a fatigue, from the events of summer in the minds of travellers."
Abercrombie House owner Mr Morgan told the Advocate last month that visitors returning to the region were not doing so out of a sense of charity and Mr Cove agreed with that assessment.
"The Bathurst region is not being visited out of a sense of obligation or pity, but because it is a vibrant destination offering compelling experiences and high calibre events," he said.