Tourists going right for Tweed
By ED SOUTHORN
IT'S official - tourists exiting Gold Coast Airport are no longer just turning left. For years, a major complaint from Tweed tourism and business operators was that too many people flying to the Bilinga airport turned left up the Gold Coast Highway towards Surfers Paradise, ignoring the Tweed. But Tweed and Coolangatta Tourism reports the dollar value of accommodation and tour bookings through the TACTIC reservations office has doubled since August 2003. TACTIC general manager Terry Watson said bookings made direct to Tweed tourism operators also increased over the same period. Mr Watson said extra and cheaper flights, particularly from Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand, as well as strong marketing campaigns, had boosted Tweed tourism. Airport chief Dennis Chant said: "The old problem that people only turn left (out of the airport) is going by the wayside." Mr Chant said competition between Jetstar and Virgin Blue had resulted in a 45 per cent increase in passengers at the airport last month, compared to last August. He said July was the airport's busiest month ever, with 257,030 passengers, even though July was traditionally quiet. This meant that September and October, with the school holidays and Indy, could be very busy. Mr Watson said Murwillumbah Motor Inn bookings for June and July were up 50 per cent. Bay Apartments bookings for the past three months were up 16 per cent and September forward bookings were the best since 1998. Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat bookings were up 13 per cent for July and up a whopping 113 per cent for August. Tweed Endeavour Cruises bookings were up 20 per cent and Ripples on Tweed accommodation bookings were up 70 per cent.