BUSY, BUSY: People visiting the Ballina Visitor Centre rose 5 per cent over last year and on December 29 it recorded its fifth-busiest day since opening its doors 18 years ago. It was also the busiest day for four years. Bookings made through the visitor centre were up 64 per cent compared with last year.
BUSY, BUSY: People visiting the Ballina Visitor Centre rose 5 per cent over last year and on December 29 it recorded its fifth-busiest day since opening its doors 18 years ago. It was also the busiest day for four years. Bookings made through the visitor centre were up 64 per cent compared with last year.

Ballina back in the swing with tourists

COMPARED with last Christmas, these school holidays have proved Ballina remains a popular seaside destination.

Paul Ferguson, president of Tourism Ballina, said there was a 'substantial increase in families' coming to Ballina these holidays.

As the owner of a motel and a cafe, Mr Ferguson has seen first-hand the rise in tourism this year, and figures from other business houses back that up.

A television advertising campaign aimed at families in the Toowoomba and Tamworth areas last July, and again last November, appears to be paying dividends.

“We are starting to see the names of these places appear on our guest registers,” explained Mr Ferguson, who owns the Colonial Motel on Bangalow Road.

“Tourism Ballina felt that a lot of people would not be going abroad this year and that they would be looking at the traditional beach holiday.”

The tourism president said feedback was good.

“At one stage I ran out of beds,” he said.

“There's the general view among business people that there are a lot more families around and that is good.

“After talking to others in the industry everyone is really positive. We believe it was advertising money well spent.”

Mr Ferguson said Tourism Ballina had spent about $2000 a month in the target areas of Toowoomba and Tamworth, with coverage also beamed to viewers in the Tenterfield area and east to Lismore.

He said many families traditionally travelled from Tenterfield to Evans Head, Ballina or Lennox Head.

“But we are capturing more than those traditional families,” he said.

As well, this season has gone on for longer.

Typically, Ballina's peak tourism time is the 10 days from Christmas Eve.

“This year plenty of families are coming through until the end of January,” he said.

Mr Ferguson put this down to the fact Ballina now offered tourists many more things to do than in the past, with skydiving, trike riding, surfing, paddling and more all on offer.

“These are all activities that didn't exist a few years ago,” he said.



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