Tourists fifi nally flflock for Easter bonanza
LOCAL business owners finally had reason to smile over the Easter break with crowds of tourists filling the streets, pubs and resort rooms after a prolonged period of economic hardship.
The affects of the global financial crisis, natural disasters and the high Australian dollar have drained the local tourism industry for almost three years.
Tourism Queensland and Tourism Port Douglas Daintree have strived to market the region as “open for business” over the past few months - and after the Easter craze many locals are convinced it may have worked.
Thousands of visitors were welcomed with open arms by tourism operators, restaurants and resort managers, although many have lowered their rates to capture a slice of the market.
Reflections manager Carmel Angelino said the resort was fully booked this Easter with a lot of visitors from Victoria who wanted to escape the cold weather.
“The weeks leading up to Easter have been the worst I have ever seen so it is fantastic to see so many visitors in town,” she said.
“We have been fully booked this Easter period.”
Hibiscus Resort and Spa manager Shane Branch said his spa hasn’t been empty all week thanks to his special holiday rates.
All 170 rooms from Rydges Sabaya Resort were filled over the long weekend, proving to be a significant improvement from last year’s occupancy figures.
Rydges Sabaya Resort general manager Daniel Meek said that this Easter has been one of the better holiday seasons they have had in years.
“We have had 100 per cent occupancy leading up to Easter and over the long weekend,” he said.
“It is a significant improvement compared to last year.”
Tourism operators also noticed the influx of tourists with Calypso operating two boats at full capacity and Poseidon carrying 80 passengers every day.
Poseidon owner Peter Wright said the boats have been full every day.
“It is quite normal for us to be busy over the Easter holidays but from what we have seen this has been a great Easter,” he said.
Cape Tribulation and Daintree tourism operators have also been swamped with visitors thanks to the free ferry passes.
Solar Whisper Wildlife Cruises manager David White is convinced tourists were attracted to the region thanks to Tourism Queensland’s marketing strategies.
“It has been dead up until Easter and over the holiday it was really busy,” he said.
According to the locals, cars were lined up waiting to get on the Daintree River ferry more than an hour on the weekend.
Holiday hot spots appeared to be the local pubs and restaurants where visitors were spending big bucks on alcohol and fine dining.
Bel cibo restaurant owner Andy Gray said the restaurant was really busy throughout the holidays.
“It has been fantastic we have been very busy in the lead-up to Easter,” he said.
“We don’t expect families to dine out every night because it is expensive to take the family out for a meal but the tourists were definitely spoiling themselves.
“It has been a lot busier than last year.”
But retail and restaurant spokesman for the Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce Doug Calvert said tourists were holding onto their credit cards when it came to spending in retail stores.
“It’s great to see an increase in the number of people in town but they are not spending a huge amount in retail stores,” he said.
“For us this Easter hasn’t been much different to last year, it just goes up and down.”
Loving it: Shae Trethowan and Andrew Smith from Melbourne relax in Rex Smeal Park