Christ­mas, is­land style

Re­gion pre­pares for boom

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A WHITE Christ­mas has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing in the Whit­sun­days, as lo­cals and visi­tors stake out the best white, sandy beaches to enjoy their fam­ily fes­tiv­i­ties.

Since Christ­mas is the time of giv­ing, the lo­cal econ­omy can enjoy a sig­nif­i­cant boost from visi­tors to the re­gion, with tourism op­er­a­tors brac- ing them­selves for the Christ­mas in­flux.

“Christ­mas is a time that we look for­ward to ev­ery year. It’s one of our busiest times so we have dou­ble boats booked for the Great Bar­rier Reef trips to ac­com­mo­date the in­flux. We don’t want to dis­ap­point any­one,” said Cruise Whit­sun­days CEO Nick Hor­tle.

“Our is­land trans­fers are al- so al­most all booked out at this time of year. We have to ac­com­mo­date the de­mand, so the leave times are a lit­tle shorter. We’re also notic­ing we have a lot more in­ter­na­tional visi­tors com­ing through, some­thing which has been slowly in­creas­ing over the years,” Mr Hor­tle said.

Toni Ward, co-owner of Whit­sun­day Jet Ski Tours agreed that Christ­mas is boom time for the Whit­sun­days.

“We have a mas­sive boost in terms of vis­i­tor num­bers to the re­gion. Dur­ing the Christ­mas pe­riod, what we do in one month is akin to what we’d nor­mally do over four months. It’s cer­tainly all hands on deck,” Ms Ward said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Ward, the an­nual Whit­sun­day sab­bat­i­cal is catching on down south.

“We’ve found that peo­ple are com­ing up north for hol­i­days, rather than head­ing down south. Our vis­i­tor num­bers have been steadily and con­sis­tently in­creas­ing over the years, and now peo­ple are book­ing ahead to se­cure a spot, as they know the Whit­sun­days will be busy come Christ­mas time,” Ms Ward said.

There really is some­thing for ev­ery­one in the Whit­sun­days, just one of the rea­sons it’s prov­ing pop­u­lar among in­ter­na­tional and Aus­tralian visi­tors.

“I think Air­lie Beach is really prov­ing it­self to be a fam­ily friendly town. We have a broad spec­trum of visi­tors to cater for, whether they are fam­i­lies, back­pack­ers, hol­i­day makers or thrillseek­ers. By pro­vid­ing top qual­ity ser­vice to them all we may be able to se­cure some reg­u­lar visi­tors,” she said.

Pres­i­dent of the Air­lie Beach Cham­ber of Commerce Kevin Collins said the Whit­sun­days has a lot to look for­ward to over the hol­i­day pe­riod.

“Air­lie Beach will ba­si­cally be at 100% ca­pac­ity over the next eight weeks. Christ­mas usu­ally sees a peak pe­riod of three weeks, and then af­ter that we have the Round the World Clip­per Race com­ing, and then af­ter that we have Chi­nese New Year. It’s go­ing to be one of the big­gest trad­ing sea­sons in our history,” he said.

SANTA’S COM­ING: When Santa ar­rives in the Whit­sun­days he re­tires his sleigh in lieu of some­thing a lit­tle more prac­ti­cal.

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