THE rain has proven a saviour to the Gloucester valley in more ways than one, with recent falls bringing about an increase in inquiries from tourists keen to visit the region over the Christmas break.
Gloucester tourism manager Wendy Hughes said all signs were pointing to a grim Christmas for tourism providers in early November, but recent inquiries had accommodation providers feeling much more confident.
“Up until just over a month ago we weren’t getting any inquiries,” she said.
“But with everything now lush and green, combined with plenty of water in the rivers bookings have really picked up again.”
Generally the busiest time of year for the Gloucester tourism industry, visitors this year are expected to spend time camping, kayaking, fishing, horse riding, bush walking and swimming.
“We’ve had plenty of inquiries for January in the lead up to Australia Day and also Easter,” Thomas Davey from the Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre said.
“We’ve noticed that in recent years there’s been a later booking pattern develop and it seems this year the booking window has been even shorter than 2012.”
Mrs Hughes said the majority of visitors looking to spend time in the Gloucester region this Christmas holiday period were families from Sydney, the Hunter and Central Coast.
She said most chose to camp.
“Gloryvale, Bretti and Copeland are always popular as is the Barrington Tops because it’s slightly cooler up there,” she said.
“People enjoy the peace and quiet. Generally the out of the way places are what people ask about. Most visitors are looking to reconnect with family and enjoy those nature-based pursuits.”
Day trippers from the Port Stephens, Port Macquarie and Manning-Great Lakes regions were also expected to give the economy a boost over Christmas.
“Tourists really do make a huge contribution to the visitor economy,” Mrs Hughes said.
“For that four week period between Christmas and Australia Day the industry is reasonably buoyant.”
Gloucester Visitor Information Centre (VIC) has partnered with the Accredited Visitor Information Centre network to provide a free smart phone app to visitors this Christmas.
Mrs Hughes said the app would offer access to the VIC website and give greater exposure to local accommodation and tourism providers.
The VIC will be closed from 2pm on Christmas Eve and all day on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
It will be open as per normal all other days.