COVID-19 NSW: Northern beaches businesses are ready for the tourists to come back

READY FOR BUSINESS: Tourism and hospitality providers Wendy Carlton, Jamie Gray, Matt Clifton and Katie Brady and Bergia Kalmar.
READY FOR BUSINESS: Tourism and hospitality providers Wendy Carlton, Jamie Gray, Matt Clifton and Katie Brady and Bergia Kalmar.

NORTHERN beaches tourism and hospitality providers may see the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, but there are still concerns.

As NSW inches closer to having 70 per cent of the population double vaccinated, business owners are already feeling positive about an easing of restrictions, hopefully around October 18.

For the double vaxxed, travel across NSW will be back on the cards and hospitality venues can reopen for dine-in customers, and local operators hope visitors will come back to the northern beaches.

Manly Paradise Motel and Apartments general manager Wendy Carlton is already starting to take bookings from October 23 and she said people are keen to get out and travel.

"Bookings are starting to come in," she said. "My bookings in December are pretty thick. If it's anything like last time when we had the shutdowns and then opened again, they come for the weekend, not the weekdays."

Even if the tourists do come back, event operator and bar owner Matt Clifton said one of the biggest challenges will be finding hospitality staff.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Bookings are already being taken at Manly Paradise Motel and Apartments, general manager Wendy Carlton said. Picture: Geoff Jones

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Bookings are already being taken at Manly Paradise Motel and Apartments, general manager Wendy Carlton said. Picture: Geoff Jones

While reopening plans are well underway for his four Manly venues - InSitu Bar and Restaurant, The Cumberland, Donny's Bar, and Market Lane - he said many of the 80 staff he had to stand down at the start of the lockdown would have by now found work elsewhere.

"I've only got nine on the books right now," he said. "It's an employee market right now. We've been closed now for quite an extended period of time and there are no staff out there."

Mr Clifton agreed that tourists and locals will come back to Manly, but suspects they will probably be at the younger end of the market, with older people more hesitant because of their fears of the risk of Covid-19.

All Katie Brady and Bergia Kalmar have ever known is running a business during the pandemic, after they took over Pittwater Eco Adventures and Pittwater Eco YHA in August last year.

PLANNING AHEAD: Finding staff for his four Manly venues will be a challenge, event manager and bar owner Matt Clifton said. Picture: Geoff Jones

PLANNING AHEAD: Finding staff for his four Manly venues will be a challenge, event manager and bar owner Matt Clifton said. Picture: Geoff Jones

"Every time we put a new product out there we get shut down with another lockdown," Ms Brady said.

The YHA is in Pittwater's Morning Bay and many of their kayak, stand up paddle board, yoga and bushwalking tours start from there.

"I think people will come back and because our business is outdoors, we hope everyone will be keen to get outdoors again," Ms Brady said.

Northern beaches based Perfect Wave Travel might have been helping surfers find the best surf break across the world for the past 15 years, but the pandemic has forced a wipe out.

With international borders slammed shut, owner Jamie Gray said the global surf experience company has had to think laterally.

TOURISM: Pittwater Eco Adventures owners Katie Brady and Bergia Kalmar have only known trading in a Covid-19 environment. Picture: Supplied

TOURISM: Pittwater Eco Adventures owners Katie Brady and Bergia Kalmar have only known trading in a Covid-19 environment. Picture: Supplied

"As a company we had 100 staff across the world, and on March 25 [last year] we stood everyone down," he said.

Usually they feature trips to the world's most exotic locations - think The Maldives, Indonesia, The Americas, Africa, Europe and the South Pacific. And while those destinations are still not available for Aussies, for those already overseas the trips are back on.

Mr Gray has expanded another of his businesses - Music in Paradise - to help make ends meet. While it usually runs intimate music gigs overseas, featuring artists such as Jimmy Barnes, Xavier Rudd and the Living End, it is now also running them in Queensland.

Qantas' plans to resume some international flights from December has already prompted a rush in enquiries in both of his businesses, Mr Gray said.

SURF'S UP: Perfect Wave Group owner Jamie Gray has been forced to think laterally since the pandemic hit. Picture: Supplied

SURF'S UP: Perfect Wave Group owner Jamie Gray has been forced to think laterally since the pandemic hit. Picture: Supplied

"We're already getting calls for Fiji and the South Pacific for early next year," he said.

"I think the demand will be massive.

"One of the benefits of being a surf travel company is surfers are the first out. The surf market will bounce back much quicker than the general market."

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