SHARK PATROL:!Lifeguard Al Mactier patrols Main Beach at Byron Bay on a jet ski yesterday looking for sharks. About 300 people
SHARK PATROL:!Lifeguard Al Mactier patrols Main Beach at Byron Bay on a jet ski yesterday looking for sharks. About 300 people

Holiday No vacancy signs go up

By RACHEL AFFLICK & PATRIZIA REIMER TIFFENY WELSBY has been taking summer bookings since last Easter. And her phone has run hot all year.

It could explain why Byron Bay is about to put up the 'No vacancy' sign, despite the recent bad publicity from shark sightings.

Tiffeny, property manager for Byron Bay Accom, said of the 200 properties on their books, 90 per cent are taken until the first week of January.

And it's a story being repeated around the region. We could be in for a bumper Christmas holiday period.

Caroline Breen, from the Ballina Visitor Information Centre, said most properties were doing much better or at least the same as last year.

"Bookings are looking healthy for this school holiday season for the Ballina coast and hinterland, including Lennox Head, Alstonville and Wollongbar," she said.

Tiffeny Welsby said Christmas was unusually busy in Byron Bay this year.

"I'm not really sure why, but Christmas week has been busier this year. Normally we don't get all the action until the New Year. But this year we have a lot of families trying to get in earlier," she said.

Evans Head First National property manager Kylie Parker said she was already knocking people back.

"We're getting inquiries every day that we just can't fill because everything's taken," she said. "There are certain dates where we have no availability from December 22 to January 5."

For some, however, the holidays have started more slowly. There seems to be fewer international visitors.

"We have backpackers here and it's quieter than last year," Lennox Lodge manager Danielle Baril said. "We think it might be the value of the dollar, there seems to be fewer travellers."

But there are other options away from the main centres. "I think a lot of people just don't know about Broadwater, or haven't heard of it," said Broadwater Stopover Tourist Park owner/manager Dean Wilson, who has vacancies.

"It's a nice park and it's usually a bit cheaper than anything in Ballina, Byron or Evans Head."



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