Tourist numbers falling

By ANITA HULM

THE verdict is in it's pretty quiet in Pottsville on the tourism front.

Businesses are talking of a downturn in tourist numbers for the current NSW school holidays and even for the entire year.

Pottsville Bait and Tackle owner Bruce Clarke said his takings were down by a third and had been like that since Christmas. Some days he does not have a customer.

Mr Clarke has owned the store for six years and says he has had scores of families who have been loyal customers popping in to tell him they were heading to Brunswick Heads where accommodation was cheaper, infrastructure was good and the river did not empty out.

He puts his drop in customers down to higher costs at the two council-run holiday parks in the town where most of his holiday customers stayed.

"It's deadset ridiculous when you can stay cheaper at the motel than the caravan park," Mr Clarke said.

Pottsville real estate agent and the town's Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Smith said holiday rentals had been "quiet for the last couple of seasons".

He says special deals at places like Salt might be having an impact on the tourism market, but the market for permanent rentals was stronger than ever.

"But Pottsville has never been a very strong tourist town, not like Coolangatta or Tweed Heads which have a big influx," Mr Smith said.

"People don't come to Pottsville for the night life, they come to walk on the beach and see no-one else.".

The Pottsville Cellars has also noticed a slight drop in numbers, particularly among campers from caravan parks coming in.

"These holidays are always the quietest," said Hooked on Seafood's Elaine Anderson yesterday. "The NSW holidays are always much quieter than the Queensland ones."

Elaine said it was hard to tell how the business was tracking as each year they seemed to do better.

The overseer of Tweed Shire Council's holiday parks, Richard Adams, said there had been a slight downturn in numbers this year, but it was minor.

Mr Adams put this down to the weather which had been colder and windier than usual and said that price had not been a factor in the people leaving early from the parks. He said the Tweed parks sold themselves to the "snow birds" from South Australia, Victoria and northern NSW based on the near-perfect weather at this time of year.

"It is usually temperate and they can wear shorts and a t-shirt, but it has been much colder," he said. "And they are very mobile and can head where it is warmer," he said.

Another issue identified by traders and Mr Adams has been the price of petrol and how those towing caravans might be choosing shorter holidays.



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