Warrnambool warms up for bumper holiday season, with more tourists on the way

THE 2013-2014 holiday season is looking good for south-west tourism operators, with an increase in bookings reported in Warrnambool.

Warrnambool foreshore caravan parks manager Alex Reardon said bookings for summer were up on last year with about 3500 guests booked in for New Year’s Eve.

Mr Reardon said Boxing Day yesterday remained the park’s busiest day of the year, with 630 arrivals booked in at the Surfside and Shipwreck Bay caravan parks. Another 200 arrivals were booked for today and tomorrow.

Mr Reardon said the park’s booking system had been upgraded to become more flexible to better accommodate overnight bookings.

Warrnambool City Council’s tourism services manager Peter Abbott said the foreshore caravan parks continued to enjoy strong return guest numbers. Among those yesterday was the Banks family from Melbourne whose 24 members extended across four generations and nine sites.

Matriarch Maureen Banks, 73, first started coming to Surfside Holiday Park in the 1950s.

She said the park’s family atmosphere and the good range of recreational activities in the city when it was raining had kept the family coming back nearly every year since. 

Her immediate family of eight used to spend the entire seven weeks of the summer school holidays at the park but now spend two to three weeks.

The caravan parks and other tourism operators are hoping Warrnambool’s forecast mild weather until January 1 will further boost bookings.

Mr Abbott said if the weather forecast was good, the “fair weather campers” started looking for sites late in the season. 

“We always have a few sites up our sleeve,” Mr Abbott said.

He estimated visitors boosted Warrnambool’s population by 10,000-11,000 people during summer, with the bookings spread across the city’s 85 visitor accommodation places.

Moyne Shire Council’s two Port Fairy caravan parks both reported strong bookings.

Southcombe Park manager Greg Fitzsimmons said its 400 sites were fully booked yesterday, a repeat of the situation last Boxing Day.

Yesterday and today were the peak arrival times with 300 sites scheduled to be occupied.

The Gardens’ 445 sites and cabins were booked out from tomorrow until January 18 and took in more than 130 arrivals yesterday. The Koroit Tower Hill Caravan Park’s 82 sites will be booked out from January 1.

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