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Airlie Finds Its Own Voice

By Paige Miller

Hotel owners had a positive story to tell when it came to visitors coming to the region over the Christmas and new year period.

While official visitation numbers are yet to be determined, the 2016 end-of- year period looks on track to be on par with or better than previous years.

This is the view of Airlie Beach Hotel general manager Mark Bell, who said increased flight services to the region were paying off.

“The new year long weekend was certainly strong – if it wasn’t the strongest it would have been up there with the best of them,” he said.

“We have had more flights than what we had in years past and the future looks pretty good with additional flights from March and April.”

Mr Bell said Airlie Beach Hotel reached capacity for new year’s and was close to capacity over Christmas, which has never happened before.

As Hotel Group managing director Jeff Aquilina said he noticed that visitors were staying longer than they have in the past.

“We certainly experienced similar occupancy to previous years and guests are staying a bit longer, which translates to them doing more tours and dining out more often.

“Even our new Heart Hotel had 100% occupancy over the Christmas and new year period.”

Mr Bell said the impressive year for tourism came down to Airlie Beach finding “its own voice”.

“The word has really got out about Airlie Beach in recent weeks,” he said.

“It was drowned a little under the banner of the Whitsundays and now people come out here and see the natural beauty of the area.

“The benefit is we are starting to see growth in the area now.”

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said he hoped to see the positive momentum continue through the traditionally quiet tourism period from March to June.

“We had a good year to date but have held back resources for the March to June period,” he said.

“We will drive a significant amount of marketing investment into the region to complement new flights and assist members and industry in building revenue during quiet periods.”

Tourism Whitsundays

will kick off a $500,000 tourism campaign extending from mid-February to June 30.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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