Happy New Year OFF WITH A BANG

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

THE fes­tive sea­son has well and truly lived up to expectations in the Whit­sun­days as pos­i­tive re­ports flood in from all cor­ners of the com­mu­nity.

With the skies above Air­lie Beach set alight on Thurs­day night, Whit­sun­day Reef Fes­ti­val com­mit­tee chair­per­son Margie Mur­phy said the New Year’s fire­works had seen a sparkle in ev­ery on­looker’s eye.

“There were a lot of fam­i­lies (for the 9pm fire­works), and at the mid­night show a lot of party- go­ers came down to the fore­shore to cel­e­brate the New Year,” she said.

Whit­sun­day Tran­sit spon­sored the 9pm dis­play, with oper­a­tions man­ager Chris Har­vey say­ing it was a chance for the busi­ness to give back.

“We be­lieve it’s im­por­tant for the com­mu­nity to have an op­por­tu­nity to get to­gether and cel­e­brate the fun times that can be had in Air­lie Beach,” he said.

Ms Mur­phy said the pub­lic had rel­ished the chance for a bit of rev­elry.

“The beach was full. They were really ap­pre­cia­tive of the dis­play,” she said.

Whit­sun­day Po­lice Sta­tion of­fi­cer-in-charge Nathan Blain said the crowd had been on their best be­hav­iour, de­spite num­bers be­ing up on pre­vi­ous years.

“The ma­jor­ity were very well-be­haved,” he said.

“There were rel­a­tively few in­ci­dents for po­lice dur­ing the night.

“Po­lice had two pub­lic nui­sance of­fences, two drug of­fences and a couple of Liquor Act of­fences as well, in­clud­ing two drink driv­ers.”

The pe­riod has also proven a boon for lo­cal busi­ness, ac­cord­ing to Whit­sun­day Coast Cham­ber of Commerce pres­i­dent Kevin Collins.

“It’s just been sen­sa­tional,” he said.

“I can’t speak for ev­ery trader, but in our ex­pe­ri­ence it’s been one of the best Christ­mases in many, many years.”

Mr Collins also expects the good times to con­tinue.

“We’ve got the (Clip­per Round the World Yacht Race) which will carry us through an­other week, and all re­ports are the Chi­nese New Year will be a big one,” he said.

At Ho­tel Group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jeff Aquilina agreed there had been a def­i­nite up­swing

“We’ve been heav­ily booked since Christ­mas Day across all of our ho­tels,” he said.

“It’s very pos­i­tive to see the high de­mand and Air­lie Beach fully booked.

“It’s prob­a­bly our busiest year since pre-GFC, so it’s cer­tainly bet­ter than last year and up on pre­vi­ous years.”

ON FIRE: See­ing in the New Year at Air­lie Beach. Photo: Peter Car­ruthers

By Rory Sheav­ils

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