Karen Whiteford, general manager of the Ramada Hotel and Suites in Ballina, reports a 12 per cent increase in occupancy rates recently, despite the global financial crisis.
Karen Whiteford, general manager of the Ramada Hotel and Suites in Ballina, reports a 12 per cent increase in occupancy rates recently, despite the global financial crisis. Cathy Adams

Tourism roller-coaster in Ballina

BALLINA is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination, according to those in the tourism industry.

It is expected the district will see even more visitors over spring and summer.

However, Ballina Tourism and Hospitality secretary, Dave Heggie, said tourism operators had reported an ‘up and down' year so far.

“Sometimes it's been really good, but the school holidays just gone were not so fantastic,” he said.

“Business-wise, the last three months have been tough.

“We're hoping for a really good summer, and for the spring school holidays to be a good period as well.

“I do think Ballina is getting more popular.

“This area has so much to offer. We're definitely pushing the area to families.”

Karen Whiteford, general manager of the Ramada Hotel and Suites in Ballina, said they had recently seen a 12 per cent increase in occupancy rate, despite suffering during the global financial crisis.

“The figures are looking very promising,” she said.

“The initiatives taken through 2009/2010 have resulted in significant revenue increases in all areas of the hotel, including a 12 per cent increase in occupancy.

“June was particularly good, although we are expecting August to be quiet.

“The hotel is now a major contributor to the Ballina economy.”

Ms Whiteford said there had been signs of recovery since November, with February marking a turning point for the industry.

The Ramada has already taken bookings for the Christmas/New Year period, and Ms Whiteford expects it will be a busy period.

However, the main problem was that people rarely booked in advance, she said.

“Our figures for the month usually come from bookings made within the month,” she said.

Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park manager, Gerald Searle, has noticed a significant increase in the number of caravanners staying in the region.

“We're very happy – it hasn't been as quiet as we expected,” he said.

“People love Ballina.

“There's no doubt it is now a destination for a lot of people.”

It looks set to be a busy year for the holiday park, with much of it already booked out for the September school holidays.

“We're also totally booked out for the peak of the Christmas period,” Mr Searle said.

“That's pretty unusual for us – it would usually take until October or November for that to happen.

“A lot of those bookings were made by people who were here last year. They rebooked before they left.”

It looks set to be a busy year for the holiday park, with much of it already booked out for the September school holidays.

“We’re also totally booked out for the peak of the Christmas period,” Mr Searle said.

“That’s pretty unusual for us – it would usually take until October or November for that to happen.

“A lot of those bookings were made by people who were here last year. They rebooked before they left.”



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