Christmas, island style
Region prepares for boom
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.