NEWS that all eight campgrounds are set to be open for the Bathurst 1000 is a promising sign of big crowds returning for the beloved October motor race.
Last year's event was a quiet affair, with a limit of just 4000 fans permitted to be at Mount Panorama per day and no camping allowed at all due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It was a far cry from the more than 30,000 campers and 200,000 strong four-day crowd figure normally achieved at the Mount.
On Tuesday, Supercars announced that all eight Mount Panorama campgrounds would be open for the event and said the sites would go on sale from Tuesday, April 20.
Mayor Bobby Bourke has welcomed the news, saying it will feel like a return to normal for the city and race fans.
"It's fantastic that we will get back to normal nearly, that's really, really good," he said.
"It's not just the residents of Bathurst or the region, it's Australia-wide. They come from Queensland, Victoria - it's like their holiday each year and to have a destination to come to to camp will be fantastic for them."
He also thinks it will mean a bigger crowd for the event, although exactly how many spectators will be able to attend in October is still to be decided.
"I think we will get more numbers in October, but I think it'll take a few years to get back to what we are really used to having up there," Cr Bourke said.
"People have changed their habits a little bit, so it will be wait and see. Hopefully we can get back to normal; if it's not by this October, I'd say by the year after we will.
"We just need to get it back out there that this is the iconic Mount and see how we go from there."
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While the fans just want to have their traditional Bathurst 1000 experience back, the return of camping and bigger crowds would be a big injection for the local economy, which took a significant hit during 2020.
The Bathurst economy is still trying to recover and big events like the Great Race are essential to that recovery.
"We need a lot more than campers on top of Mount Panorama, but it will go a long way," Cr Bourke said.
"Mount Panorama's one of our major incomes of the year. We have lost millions of dollars out of income in the last year and a half nearly, so we do need that input."
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