Wentworth Regional Tourism Inc. (WRTI) has slammed the recent NSW-Victorian border restrictions for almost killing the local tourism industry.

WRTI President Brian Beaumont says many of its members had been “dreadfully impacted” by the combined NSW border closure and the Victorian stage three restrictions.

“With revenue down more than 75 per cent for many border businesses, it is beyond being a bleak picture,” Mr Beaumont said.

“Additionally, the houseboat industry and paddle steamers were unable to operate on the Murray River even in a reduced capacity, as the waters of the Murray are part of NSW.”

“There is absolute heartbreak attached to the stories,” he said.

Riverboats are now back in business, with regional Victorians allowed on board without a border pass.

Mr Beaumont said these “savvy business people” have looked at all options to generate an income to cover fixed costs during the lockdown period.

“But at each turn, they have been stopped by the bureaucracy and the one size fits all Covid-19 rules regardless of case numbers.”

Donna Scopelitti of Varapodio Estate said “The Victorian stage 3 restrictions slammed the door on people movement into the Wentworth Shire from Victoria. Our customer base is made up of 90 per cent Victorians”.

President of WRTI, Brian Beaumont said “members had reported ongoing confusion about the restrictions. As a border community we are inherently ‘blended’ in all facets. We need our Sunraysia area to be considered as a single bubble area either side of the Murray.”

Along with the major impact on the boating industry, tour operators have equally had their businesses ripped away with SA and NSW border closures.

One tourism operator confirmed the cancelation of 20 bus tour bookings in the last 6 months.

Another who operates an interstate bus tour company has had a forced six months closure resulting in the cancellation of a minimum 10 bus tours.

While some enterprises have benefited from emergency services accommodation, the majority of businesses surveyed have reported 50 to 100 per cent reduction in business and income, according to WSTI.