Bumper start to tourism season

THERE may be fewer parking spaces, longer queues to the check-out and more people in the surf – but the influx of Port Macquarie’s population in summer has been given a warm welcome by local businesses.

Solid bookings and abounding holiday-makers provided a much-needed boost to the local economy and serves as a lifeline to tourism-based ventures, says Janette Hyde president of the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association.

“As far as I’m concerned tourism is our main industry – it really does keep our economy buoyant,” Mrs Hyde said.

She welcomed holiday makers to the area and hoped people would take full advantage of all the different attractions on offer throughout the region.

“We are very lucky that people are continuing to choose Port Macquarie as a holiday destination.”

And if the current climate is anything to go buy, it seems our region remains a top-pick among visitors from far and wide. 

Caravan parks are chock-a-block, hotels are fully booked and restaurants and cafes are getting their fare share of attention.

Monique Walker from the Sundowner Breakwall Tourist Park said the phone has been ringing off the hook.

The already fully-booked caravan park noted an increase in the number of people trying to get last-minute accommodation.

“It’s definitely picked up this year and people are staying for longer too,” Ms Walker said.

“We’re in a really great location here as a family meeting point between the north and south, and we get a lot of people coming from out Tamworth way.”

Christmas came early for local businesses, said Chris Denny director of The Observatory Hotel.

He said with Christmas day falling on Tuesday more families made the holiday move ahead of previous years and had the opportunity to extend their holiday for a few extra days.

“The Christmas rush was a bit earlier this year,” Mr Denny said. “Normally it tends to build-up around boxing day but this year we’ve had the added bonus of Christmas crowds coming earlier.”

General manager of Rydges Port Macquarie David Capper said bookings were looking solid into the new year.

“This is always a busy time for us,” Mr Capper said. We’re running on 100 per cent and you can’t really go up much from there.”

He said this year’s summer was shaping up to be as good, if not better, than in previous years.

Senior Lifeguard Grant Hudson said lifeguards were preparing for some seriously busy summer days with as many as 7000 people expected at the beach on a nice day.

And former locals have joined the masses in making the trip home for Christmas.

Surfers from up and down the coast have been piling into cars squished-in among their boards, towels and wax to make full use of our regions renowned surf spots.

“I love this place,” said Danny Pollard, who is on a surfing road-trip from the Gold Coast.

“It’s epic - the people are nice and the beaches are awesome. There is definitely a bit more selection here for surfing spots.”

Jarryd Laxton could not agree more. 

He said the wave-rich region offered a pleasant change compared to the typically poor conditions at his home break in Queensland.

“There are so many waves in such a small area here,” Mr Laxton said. “There would be about a million people out at home - it’s holidays here and it’s not even crowded.” 

For tips on some great holiday options visit http://www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au.

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