Travellers back on move

Tourism in Penola is picking up again after a couple of quieter years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riddoch Business and Community Association president Nicole Reschke said the last couple of months in the region had been “really great”.

“I think the end of Summer and the start of Autumn everyone’s taking the opportunity to get out into the regions and explore,” Ms Reschke said.

“Everything’s been quite booked out and everything’s full and flourishing.”

In April 2020 during COVID, Penola recorded 451 visitors, compared to April this year when they increased dramatically to 2166.

Ms Reschke said the recent Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival had been a great injection for the town, with many people visiting from different areas.

“I had lots of locals saying there were lots of unfamiliar faces, so lots of tourists in the town,” she said.

“I think that the festival’s really going from strength to strength. It’s really gaining momentum again after a couple of quieter years, I suppose, with COVID, so it’s really great to see that a 30-year-old event is still flourishing and expanding and growing.”

Ms Reschke said there was still some uncertainty and inconsistency regarding visitation, however she had heard accommodation was booked out over the upcoming June long weekend.

“I think it’s at a little bit of a lull now before the June long weekend, which is always a great injection of visitors to the region,” she said.

“I think there’s still a lot of picking up that’s still to come, but everyone’s keeping positive and really had to work together to get people to our region.”

Ms Reschke encouraged people to keep supporting local and said the money spent locally gets reinvested in the area.

“There is a lot to offer in the Penola Coonawarra during winter, which is a great time to enjoy a wine tasting, sit by the fire in the cosy cellar doors and the annual Coonawarra Cellar Dwellers event is approaching on July 1,” she said.

Ms Reschke said everybody worked hard to offer different options for visitors in winter and said they always welcomed Mount Gambier visitors to Penola Coonawarra.

“We’re only a 30 minute trip up the road from Mount Gambier, it’s well worth the drive to come and have a great time in Penola and Coonawarra,” she said.

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