Tourist parks do it tough
BUNDABERG caravan parks have reported a disappointing end to the 2011 tourism season, with Christmas visitor numbers down as much as half on previous years.
Bread-and-butter grey nomads and visiting families have been noticeably absent from many of the region's major tourism parks.
Bargara Beach Caravan Park manager Jody Keen said the popular tourism park was quieter than any year she could remember, in spite of fine weather and favourable beach conditions.
"At this time of year we're usually at maximum capacity and we're turning people away," she said.
Ms Keen expected that even with last-minute bookings, just 200 of the caravan park's 400 sites would be occupied over the Christmas long weekend.
She said the vacancies would come as a financial blow to both the caravan park and the local economy.
"If we're running at capacity, we can have up to 2000 people at any one time, which flows on to other shops in town," she said.
Midtown Caravan Park manager Colin Gordon estimated his Christmas patronage would be down about 25% on previous years.
"We've put it down to the financial times," he said.
Bundaberg East Cabin and Tourist Park manager Lyn Rowe believed belt tightening amid difficult economic conditions had encouraged many families to spend their Christmas at home.
"We could do with a lot more visitors," she said.
"There haven't been as many visitors through to see the turtles this year either."
Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manger James Corvan believed major flooding in the region earlier this year continued to scare tourists away.
"The threat and fear of rain, storms and floods are still out there and it certainly is making people very skittish," he said.
"People remember what happened last year all too well and they don't want to get stuck if it pours down and they get isolated."