Holiday bookings boom
WITH easy access to swimming spots, fishing holes and cycling tracks, Ballina is the perfect holiday spot for Brisbane mum Caron Burton and her young family.
“We are loving it here,” she said.
“We’ve been here before, and this is the first place that we’ve actually come back to.
“We like it here because of the diversity. You’ve got so much here, and it’s pretty safe for the kids.
“We would like to stay longer.”
The Burton family have joined forces with three other families for a week of relaxation at the Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park.
The park’s manager, Gerald Searle, said they were ‘solidly booked’.
“We are essentially booked out now until after Australia Day,” he said.
“It’s way better than last year. The beginning of December is usually quiet, but it hasn’t been like that this year.
“Nobody says anything negative about Ballina anymore. We’re a totally different market to Byron Bay. We’re more family-oriented.”
But that’s not to say Byron will be neglected these holidays.
Byron Bay Visitor Centre manager, Katharine Myres, said the town was ‘pretty busy’.
“Generally you could say that lower-priced accommodation is fully booked,” she said.
“Some of the mid to high range accommodation is still available.
“On the whole everybody is fairly positive.
“People are still spending, maybe not as much, but they’re still having a holiday and enjoying themselves.”
According to Northern Rivers Tourism chief executive Russell Mills, many families are returning to the ‘classic Australian family holiday’ at caravan parks.
He also said strong December tourism numbers showed the organisation’s ‘Rivers of Life’ campaign had paid off.
“In speaking with operators, they are doing pretty well and getting to the stages of being fully booked,” he said.
“But it does depend on who you speak to. The first couple of weeks of December can be pretty slow. That’s because most people tend to take their holidays from December 21 to January 5.”
Mr Mills said Northern Rivers Tourism would ramp up its promotional activities in late January.
“We need to fill beds beyond the silly season. Tourism operators want to extend the peak period,” he said.