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Festive season gives businesses a boost

By Mark Beale

LOCAL businesses are reporting solid trading over the Christmas and New Year period and accommodation providers say there has been high occupancy right across the Whitsundays.

Airlie Beach Chamber of Commerce president Tony Laurent said the feeling on the Airlie main street right now was generally extremely positive.

“I think the town’s been very buoyant,” he said.

“It’s been a really nice mix of international people from all over the world, local people and people from the regions and interstate.”

Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) executive director Jeff Aquilina said it was exciting to see the region’s towns and islands buzzing with holidaymakers again.

“It was indeed a huge Christmas season and WMDL is now preparing to launch a major marketing campaign in the regional drive market to continue the buzz and drive bookings for the coming months,” he said.

Cruise Whitsundays general manager of operations Gary Kilby said the company had operated almost at full capacity every day over the busy Christmas season.

“We continue to remain very heavily booked through until Australia Day, with two boats scheduled to travel to the reef every day until then [and] we’re also already seeing solid forward bookings for Chinese New Year late in February, so it’s very positive to start the year being so busy.”

Reef Festival committee chairwoman Margie Murphy, who organised the dual fireworks displays on the Airlie Beach foreshore for New Year’s Eve, said both the 9pm and midnight displays were well attended this year.

“It was especially great to see families out there at 9pm and the sponsorship from Whitsunday Transit ensured it was a really good display,” she said.

Ms Murphy said there was a slight hitch with the midnight display, which had to be paused while unauthorised people were removed from the exclusion zone, but otherwise the night went off with a bang.

She reminded the community that many events in the Whistundays were organised by volunteers and that anyone who wished to add to the New Year’s Eve festivities was welcome to form a committee of their own.

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