The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

VIS­I­TORS are be­ing urged not to call off planned vis­its to the NSW Hunter Val­ley be­cause of the re­cent floods. Much of the area is un­af­fected — the gate­way Mait­land re­gion was worst hit — and op­er­a­tors who rely on tourists for a liv­ing are keen to get across the busi­ness-as-usual mes­sage.

The Grand Mer­cure Apart­ments, The Vin­tage, is one busi­ness that has been field­ing calls from trav­ellers ask­ing if they should can­cel.

But gen­eral man­ager Vickie O’Brien says the re­sort has not been af­fected. ‘‘ We have had a lot of calls from peo­ple who are con­cerned that the ho­tel might have suf­fered some dam­age,’’ she says. ‘‘ But it’s busi­ness as usual here. We were full for the en­tire week­end and the only thing the wet weather did was en­cour­age peo­ple to stay in­doors and en­joy their private fire­places with some Hunter wine and lo­cal pro­duce in­stead of ven­tur­ing too far afield.

‘‘ There is real con­cern vis­i­tors might stay away from the Hunter re­gion at a time when it most needs sup­port.’’

It’s a sim­i­lar story at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Val­ley in Lovedale where gen­eral man­ager Neil Houghton says the re­sort es­caped un­scathed apart from some mi­nor flood­ing on the golf course and gar­dens.

‘‘ There’s no doubt it has been hor­rific,’’ Houghton says. ‘‘ Lots of peo­ple have been af­fected, have lost their homes, their cars, their busi­nesses. It’s tragic.

‘‘ But the other side of the coin is that we’re OK, lots of other busi­nesses lo­cally are OK, and we’re open and hop­ing to see peo­ple come and en­joy the Hunter Val­ley as they’d planned.’’ Barry Oliver

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