Camp sites proving to be popular

LOW cost family holidays, Coffs Harbour's traditional strength, are proving a bright spot amid the economic gloom.

Council caravan parks at Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Sawtell all ended the 2007-08 financial year well ahead of budget predictions and with trading profits ranging from $27,000 to more than $591,000.

The annual trading report for the Coffs Coast State Park Trust and Woolgoolga Beach Reserve Trust was presented to Coffs Harbour City Council on Thursday.

“The report makes pretty good reading, especially with the doom and gloom being preached,” Deputy Mayor Cr Bill Palmer said.

“It (gloom) could be a plus for us as more people take their holidays domestically and holiday as cheaply as possible.”

“It highlights that if you have a professional group looking after it (park) and take away trusts, you may get a better result,” said Cr Jennifer Bonfield.

The report covers four major seaside parks - Woolgoolga Beach and Lakeside Caravan Parks, Park Beach Holiday Park and Sawtell Beach Caravan Park.

The two Woolgoolga parks showed increases in trading income of 26.6 per cent and 15.1 per cent, with Park Beach up 5.9 per cent and Sawtell up 3.3 percent.

While the Woolgoolga figures showed the benefit of major changes, as the parks reverted from contract management to council control, all the parks showed healthy margins, in spite of the economic uncertainty and high fuel prices which affected the last half of the year.

Profits from the council parks are ploughed back into community facilities like supporting the Botanic Garden and providing power to Park Beach Reserve for functions like the annual Food and Wine Festival.

This summer has seen the parks packed with visitors, leading to expectations that the upward trend can be maintained.

The operation of the parks is a team effort by council staff, who also consult with the Department of Lands.

The report to council said the enthusiastic support of all council departments had been pivotal to the parks' success.

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