North Coast beaches a bonus for tourists
By MARY MANN
BEACH-GOING weather has been terrible on the North Coast this week, but it has not stopped a healthy dose of Queensland tourists from invading our coastline.
It seems they've caught on to the fact our beaches are some of the best the world has to offer, and are doing everything they can to get a piece of them.
Rain, hail or shine.
But it is not to the surprise of Caroline Breen, of the Ballina Visitor Information Centre.
Ms Breen said tourists from south-east Queensland were traditionally the North Coast's strongest tourist market.
"We're not the Gold Coast, and anecdotally, that's a good reason for people to come here," she said.
"People like to get away from the hustle and bustle, and the Northern Rivers is where they can do that."
Tourism NSW figures show Northern Rivers region receives more than half of its visitors from interstate, and that Queensland is the biggest interstate market for visitors.
Of those tourists, more than half of them go to the beach, and about 48 per cent eat out at restaurants.
Queenslander Vikki Walker, of Deception Bay, said North Coast beaches were far more relaxing than those back home.
She was on several days' holidays in Ballina with her family. "The beaches are very different, I'd say that," she said.
"The sand on the North Coast is finer, the beaches are cleaner and there are less people.
"We never go to the beaches at the Gold Coast because they are just too busy and aren't that nice."
Vikki's husband Graham said the closest, 'half-decent beach' to their home was at Bribie Island. "But even there, the sand isn't sand, it's like course rocks," he said.
Their daughter, Jessica Lund, 14, agreed. "Compared to where we come from, there's a big difference, back home it's all yucky water and mangroves," she said.
About seven years ago the family lived on the Northern Rivers. Graham said he had not realised how special the area was until they had moved away.