Life?s a beach with tourism on the rise
By DAWN COHEN
KEITH CURNUCK came to Ballina for three days and stayed six weeks.
"I have fallen in love with the place," Mr Curnuck said.
The West Australian is not the only one.
Thousands of tourists flocked to the coastal town in a bonanza holiday season, a Ballina Visitor Information Centre survey has revealed.
Twenty-nine Ballina and Lennox Head lodgings, from caravan parks to luxury apartments, reported matching or bettering last year's occupancy rates.
"Lots of places were turning away families without bookings," Andrea Munsie, Ballina Visitor Information Centre co-ordinator said.
All six caravan parks surveyed were inundated with visitors.
Ballina Lakeside Caravan Park increased its turnover by 35 per cent from last year's holiday figures.
Ninety-eight per cent of customers have booked again for next year's holiday season.
"It has been spectacular," said park manager, Gerald Searle.
"It's the uniqueness of the environment and the sheltered, sandy beaches."
Headland Beach Resort at Lennox Head reported a slight improvement in occupancy rates.
Both Budget and Avis reported an increase in car rentals, with a rise in rentals to Ballina Byron Airport arrivals bound for Byron Bay.
"Visitor numbers were increased (in the area) by Lismore's cricket and baseball tournaments as well as the usual flow-on from Byron Bay," said Ms Munsie.
"Lennox Head is already fully-booked for Easter."
Ballina Manor was one of the few industry operators reporting a drop in bookings.
The five-star resort attracts motorists en route to Noosa, said Ms Munsie.