Motels happy to light up no-vacancy signs

Many motels had to light up the no vacancy signs, but it was a quieter year for some caravan parks and camping sites.

Paradise Tourist Park assistant manager Diane Reay said they were at capacity most days but had a slower start, with fewer people staying in the lead-up to the festival.

North Tamworth Rugby League Club president Gary Chillingworth estimated the number of campers at Jack Woolaston Oval was down about 15 per cent on last year, putting it down to the big 40th year celebrations of last year and the fires that have affected Victoria and NSW.

It was a similar story at the City Lights Caravan Park, where owner Jaine Gallegos said numbers were roughly down 30 to 40 per cent.

Mrs Gallegos said this could be attributed to more council camping spots, as well as the earlier opening of the council’s camping grounds.

“(The festival) just didn’t have the pace that we’ve had – this is our sixth festival and it was quieter,” Mrs Gallegos said.

Kay Sweeney, of Edward Parry Motel, said her establishment was full like last year, with the majority booked at least six months in advance.

Forty to 50 per cent of rooms have already been sold for next year’s festival, she said.

It was also a full house at the Almond Inn Motel, where three-quarters of rooms were booked by Christmas.

“We had a great festival, everyone was happy, no complaints,” manager Sharlene Louden said.

Owner of The Equine Inn, John Sloane, said all 17 rooms were also full most nights of the festival, despite a smaller crowd this year.

But he noticed fewer people were staying for the full 10 days, instead taking shorter holidays, which he believed could be because more of the regular 

festival fans were getting older.

Motel Grande had one room free for just one day of the festival, and owner Mark Hamlin said four of the 11 have already been booked for next year.

City Gate Motel was also booked out for the majority of the festival, which owner Julie Le Brocq said was on par with last year.

But more people stayed for the last Sunday because of the Australia Day long weekend, she said.

While motels mostly reported the last of their guests left yesterday, some of those camping have been forced to stay on by the rain.

Mrs Gallegos said some visitors from Queensland could not get home, while others had left early in anticipation of the flooding in their home towns.

At Paradise Tourist Park about one-third of guests were staying on, Mrs Reay said, while others camping in tents had wanted to stay longer but were forced to leave.

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