We touched base with some key tourism operators in the region to see how they fared in the first week.
The week from 26th of December to 2nd January is historically the Barrington Coast’s biggest for visitation. Concerns over water restrictions and the NSW bush fire crisis having an impact on visitation during this period was a worry of local operators leading in to the summer holiday period.
For Big 4 Great Lakes at Forster Tuncurry, it’s been business as usual, despite the water restrictions placed on visitors.
“We have and are still having a super busy summer with no real change in the amount of bookings or cancellations” said Assistant Park Manager Michaela Breese.
“We have actually found that visitors have been really great about water usage and everyone understanding the situation we’re currently in”.
The bush fire crisis did have an impact for some operators like Bombah Point Eco Cottages.
“We had a few cancellations due to the fire fears” said Owner Duncan Campbell.
“Much of the slack was taken up with last minute bookings and we are now fully booked until Jan 8th. Overall the start to summer has been pretty good” he said.
For fire affected towns like Harrington and Crowdy, cancellations due to fires was a major concern. Big4 Colonial Holiday Park took a proactive approach by contacting guest to let them know the situation resulting in the park being at capacity.
“It was actually easy to reassure guests of our situation and that it was ok to travel” said Park Manager Bonnie Callagher.
“We also had comments from regular visitors who said they felt it was important to support our community after the fire” said Ms Scott.
Away from accommodation and the news is also good. Helen Black from Forster’s The Coastal Brewing Company had only positives to speak of for their start to their holiday season.
“We’ve had a terrific start to summer – across all of the tap room, cans and keg sales” said Ms Black.
“More local venues are carrying our beers, both on tap and in cans and feedback received from these venues has been tourists love supporting local produce. This combined with some great exposure received in December through our Hoppy Hallidays IPL being included in the beer advent calendar really put Forster on the map for beer”.
Barrington Coast’s Destination Management Coordinator Sharon Bultitude said that despite initial fears of a drop in visitors, the start to summer had been strong.
“We know how important this time of year is to our local business operators and we know how worried they were about impacts like the fires in November and water restrictions in place” said Ms Bultitude.
“From what we are hearing from operators there has been little impact and most are tracking similar to previous summer holiday periods.”
“Our Destination Service Officers are speaking with accommodation providers daily and are finding it hard to find availability for visitors which indicates everyone is busy!”