Big4 Ballina Central Caravan Park managers Erin and Brad Scofield, are optimistic that they will have a busy Christmas season, with around half of their sites already booked for the period.
Big4 Ballina Central Caravan Park managers Erin and Brad Scofield, are optimistic that they will have a busy Christmas season, with around half of their sites already booked for the period. CATHY ADAMS

Big Prawn still pulls crowd

TOURISM on the Northern Rivers could suffer this Christmas, with a new report showing almost a third of NSW residents are cancelling travel plans in an effort to save money.

However, mangers of the Big4 Ballina Central Caravan Park, Brad and Erin Scofield, rejected the report’s findings.

“Only about half the sites here are still available for the Christmas period,” Mr Scofield said. “People are booking anywhere from seven days up to four to six weeks.”

The study found 82 per cent of people were ‘stashing’ their cash.

Northern Rivers Tourism chief executive, Russell Mills, said he was still positive about the approaching summer season.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people are watching what they are spending,” he said.

“But not everyone will cancel. We know holidays are good for the soul.

“This just points out the importance of having an effective marketing campaign for our destination. We have a TV advertising campaign starting on November 1.”

Tourism Ballina secretary, Dave Heggie, admitted there was some concern in the industry about people cutting back on travel over the Christmas holiday period, so his organisation is also about to start a major advertising campaign.

“We’ve made some TV advertisements about the Ballina coast and hinterland, and we have about 320 slots over two weeks. That will start next month,” Mr Heggie said.

“We really want to promote the region in the lead-up to the Christmas holidays.

“People want to save money and at the moment, the Aussie dollar is good, so a lot of people are travelling overseas.

Mr Heggie also said the impending demise of the Big Prawn was attracting visitors.

“We’ve had emails from people who are coming to this area because they know that the Big Prawn is going to get demolished and they want to see it before it goes,” he said.

“Whether you love it or hate it, the Big Prawn is promoting our region.”

Westpac’s state general manager, Damien Macrae, said the results of the survey showed people wanted to ‘get back to basics’ after battling through a ‘tough 12 months’.

Results
  • 54 per cent of people support local business
  • 25pc eat at restaurants close to home and
  • 14pc are looking for a job closer to home


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