As the borders open, the impact of more than two years of border restrictions will continue to be felt by the Mandurah tourism sector a while longer.
Since the onset of border restrictions in January 2020, $4 billion has been wiped from the $12 billion WA tourism industry, with 20,000 tourism jobs lost and countless lives disrupted.
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said the border delays and uncertainty had caused many events and holiday trips to be cancelled indefinitely. As a result, the border opening had not brought a flood of bookings to the industry.
"Tourism operators are ready for visitors to return today, but the financial cost and loss of staff will not be quickly or easily overcome," he said.
"It is going to take time and support for the industry to recover the jobs lost, reputations damaged, and economic diversity."
This has been felt among the Mandurah tourism sector with businesses saying there was a long way to go before there would be normality in the tourism industry.
Mandurah Cruises owner Myrianthe Riddy said the border opening delays meant interstate bookings had to be refunded and the company also lost an interstate staff member due to begin in February.
She said the uncertainty and restrictions had caused a lack of confidence among tourists.
"We're getting requests for quotes for international groups but in terms of leisure travelers beginning to book it's too early for that," Ms Riddy said.
"We still have a number of restrictions versus other places travelers can go to so that may put people off."
Despite a lack of "leisure tourists", Ms Riddy anticipated international and interstate family members in the first wave of people coming into Mandurah.
This would provide a well needed boost to the tourism sector as WA moves into a colder season.
Visit Mandurah general manager Anita Kane said feelings of optimism among the tourism industry were mixed with caution.
"There will be a much welcomed uplift to Mandurah's tourism industry and tourism operators will be working to mitigate risks to allow for safe tourism," she said.
"While there will likely be challenges to overcome, businesses have been keenly preparing and we are confident that WA's high vaccination rate puts the industry in the strongest position to overcome challenges presented in this next phase of the pandemic."
The Tourism Council WA is currently calling on a support package where all businesses that have suffered financial loss are eligible for funding.
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