Bushfire fear killing holiday season for nearby businesses
Businesses that survived the horrific bushfires in recent months still have a massive battle ahead of them - getting customers through the door this holiday season.
Business owners in Wisemans Ferry and the Hunter Valley said in some cases tourist traffic was down more than 40 per cent this peak season.
Wisemans Inn Hotel duty manager Tracey Ifield said despite the venue being out of harm's way, people were hesitant to holiday there.
"I'd say business is down more than 40 per cent. It's definitely because of the fires," Ms Ifield told The Saturday Telegraph.
"We weren't affected by the fires because they were on the other side, even though you could see it from here. We have a smoke haze some days but it's the same as the haze in the city."
Ms Ifield said she hopes travellers realise businesses in the region are struggling.
"Social media has created the frenzy. There's a bit of smoke but that's it, it's business as usual aside from that and everything is fine," she said.
"The people we have here have no complaints. On the days it affects the city too then we have it but even when the Gospers fire was closer to us, we weren't overly affected. I bloody hope business picks up."
Winemaker Brett Woodward said profits had been down at his Pokolbin cellar door Saddlers Creek Wines because people are too scared to visit the region.
"The biggest impact of the fires for us is the lack of traffic. You still get international tourists but what you're not seeing is the day trippers from Newcastle or Sydney. They are the core customers that used to drive our businesses," Mr Woodward said.
"The actual fire impact in the main tourist region of the Hunter Valley was quite minimal. We haven't all shut up shop and bunkered down waiting for a fire to come. We'd encourage anybody and everybody to come."
Mr Woodward said while people should remain alert about the routes they take, the Hunter Valley tourist region is safe for day trips.
"There is only so much hopes and wishes people can send. Bring your wallets, that's what we need."