Shark fears didn’t wreck Ballina holiday crowds this year
BROADLY speaking Ballina didn't suffer the quiet summer it feared after last year's spate of shark attacks put the town on the world map for all the wrong reasons.
Ballina Chamber of Commerce CEO Nadia Eliott-Burgess gave a qualified thumbs up to the summer 2015-16 after surveying a range of accommodation providers as well as retailers in the Ballina CBD.
"One operator said it was the best December they've had on record," Ms Eliott-Burgess said. "And January was very good - on par with the same season 2014-15, at 90% occupancy.
"Generally from the conversations I've been having that is the case - no drop in trade, it was a bumper season.
"This has been reflected in the retail operators I've spoken to in the CBD as well."
In the camping and caravan end of the market, Ms Eliott-Burgess said parks along the Ballina Coast and hinterland were at full occupancy for the entire summer holiday season through to Australia Day, even leading to an overflow to Wardell, and then eventually Yamba.
"There's no way we'd be sending people to Yamba if there was anywhere to put them here," she said.
A local laundromat who relies on the summer camping market also told the Chamber of Commerce it was their best ever season.
"To be speaking to both ends of the market right through from the Ramada to the caravan parks and getting such an astoundingly good report for the whole season I can confidently say that it was far better than expected," Ms Eliott-Burgess said.
Not everyone was happy with the results of the season, however, with Dave Loosemore of Dunes at Shelly Beach reporting his summer was less than stellar.
"Everyone was here on Boxing Day and they were all gone by the 11th of January, and there was only one caravan park which was booked out for that whole period of time," Mr Loosemore said.
"There was a busy period but it was for a very short period of time.
"Last year we were booked until the 26th of January.
"(This year) on Monday the 11th, it was 'see you later'.
"I thought it was quiet, and the beaches were quiet."