Almost Full: Hotels at Airlie Beach have been almost booked out over the holiday season.
Almost Full: Hotels at Airlie Beach have been almost booked out over the holiday season. Zac Bailey

Solid bookings at Airlie Beach

IT'S party time for Airlie Beach accommodation providers - they have plenty to cheer about with near-full bookings over the Christmas-New Year period.

Tourism Whitsunday CEO Peter O'Reilly said rooms at Airlie Beach were almost sold out, while island resorts weren't far behind.

"The numbers here have been very good," he said.

"It's been close to 100% (occupancy) on the mainland and the islands have also been doing well."

However, many holidaymakers have been leaving their bookings to the last minute. Mr O'Reilly said few were willing to gamble on the weather.

"We saw late bookings and I think we will continue to see those," he said. "If the weather stays good we will be right."

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort has enjoyed strong bookings this festive season. The resort's group and events manager Jodie Talbot said the 109 sites and 46-plus cabins at the site had been fully booked out over the Christmas and New Year periods.

Bookings have also been very strong at Marina Shores, Waters Edge, Waterfront Whitsunday Retreat and Whitsunday Vista - all are nearly sold out for New the Year period. Jeff Aquilina, managing director of the Hotel Group - which owns the hotels - said there were few rooms available.

"We're just about full. There are a couple of spots here and there," he said.

Mr Aquilina said there had been a lot of late bookings at the hotels as many were holding off to see what the weather would be like after Cyclone Yasi wreaked havoc last year.

He said there were higher than normal bookings in the second and third weeks of January; however there were more vacancies in the first week of the month. This was due to high airfare prices, he said. Mr O'Reilly said bookings on flights to the Whitsundays had been very good over Christmas.

"Flights have been full in and out of Hamilton Island and the Whitsunday Coast airport," he said.

The only downside is many tourists aren't spending much cash when they arrive. Retailers in Airlie Beach had reported a 30% drop in takings on last year, Mr O'Reilly said.

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