Sweet 'n' sour summer

By BELINDA SCOTT

TWO weeks of wet weather have hit some Coffs Coast tourism operators hard but proved a bonanza for others.

One of the organisers of the annual Putt Bennett Family Fishing Festival, Nick Young, said some fishing supply firms had reported that their trade was down by more than 70 per cent over the two weeks, normally a peak time of the year.

Other Coffs Harbour businesses also had to contend with the loss of the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour ocean racing crowd.

Coffs Harbour Marina traders, who were hard-hit by the yacht race cancellation, are now planning a special family Australia Day celebration from 10am-2pm on January 26.

They hope to make the Australia Day carnival, which will also mark the renaming of the complex as the Marina Village, an annual event.

With the Northern Rivers region awash with floods, the Coffs Coast was 'the lucky country' missing out on the floods that marooned towns like Coraki and Woodburn.

But some tourists turned back.

Sydney mother Trish Croaker, on a country and coast holiday and planning to spend time in Coffs Harbour, said she had changed her mind and decided to return to Sydney early with her family.

"I saw the pictures of the floods, it was raining everywhere, so we decided to go back to Sydney but we might come up later," she said.

The manager of Coffs Harbour Visitor Information Centre, Brian Bowers said while the yacht race cancellation probably hurt pubs, clubs and restaurants, he had been surprised by the small number of vacant rooms.

He said hundreds of bookings had been cancelled, but accommodation houses had picked up new bookings, many from travellers deterred from going further north or fleeing the floods southwards.

All-weather attractions saw capacity crowds, with Glenreagh Mountain Railway, the Pet Porpoise Pool, shopping centres and cinemas among the beneficiaries.

The member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser said it had been other operators, rather than accommodation houses, which had suffered.

"A lot of businesses make the bulk of their income over the Christmas break," he said.

Mr Fraser said he supported the call by Andrew Stoner and Don Page for extra help for the North Coast tourism industry in the wake of the floods.

Acting Leader of the NSW Opposition Andrew Stoner and Shadow Minister for Tourism Don Page have called on Minister for Tourism Matt Brown to provide increased support for northern NSW.

"Assistance could be in the form of providing incentives to tourists by waiving or reducing entry fees to NSW National Parks," Mr Stoner said.

"The State Government should also consider a one-off tourist marketing campaign aimed at metropolitan NSW and Victoria."

Tourism NSW figures show that tourism on the Mid North Coast generated $2.1 billion in the 2006-07 financial year.



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