ISLAND BECKONS: Bookings for  the Lady Musgrave tour on 1770 Reef's vessel Emelie were full most days during the holiday period.
ISLAND BECKONS: Bookings for the Lady Musgrave tour on 1770 Reef's vessel Emelie were full most days during the holiday period. Aerial Media Gladstone

Hotspot's holiday rush short-lived for some businesses

THOUSANDS of tourists flooded into Agnes Water during the holidays but the rush was short-lived for some.

Simon Della Santa, the general manager of a luxury hotel and restaurant, said the Christmas and New Year holiday rush was eight days shorter than previous years.

Mr Della Santa said due to a drop-off in bookings he stopped the high season rates eight days earlier than usual at his 112-room resort Lagoons 1770.

He said there was a mass exodus of Christmas visitors at the tourism hotspot from January 2.

"While it was shorter this season, we did have a great week, so it's a shame," he said.

"We would've liked to see a little bit of growth, we forecast an eight per cent increase but we didn't get it."

Mr Della Santa said the area continued to suffer from the Spirit of 1770 disaster in May 2016 when the Lady Musgrave Cruises catamaran caught fire and sank.

The 46 people on board were able to escape with only minor injuries.

The catamaran could carry up to 150 people.

Mr Della Santa said Lagoons 1770 had lost bookings because of cancellations of Lady Musgrave transfers by the current tour operator, 1770 Reef.

1770 Reef co-owner Mark Mergard said the boat, which carries 68 passengers, does not operate in winds in excess of 20 knots and high swell.

But he said during the holiday break it was only on January 1 and 2 that the tour was cancelled due to weather.

Agnes Water Beach Holiday's co-manager Trish Biggins said they also had bookings cancelled due to the reef boat not operating.

"We need a (Lady Musgrave) boat running efficiently and more regularly. We need a bigger boat," she said.

"We have had people cancel their accommodation because they couldn't do that boat trip."

Ms Biggins joined her husband Mick Williams six months ago to co-manage the caravan park and luxury cabin accommodation business.

While their camping sites are booked out until the end of the month, the take-up of other options, including bungalows, apartments and safari tents, eased after January 12.

Bookings for the Lady Musgrave tour on 1770 Reef's vessel Emelie were full most days during the holiday period, Mr Mergard said.

He told The Observer he was in the process of securing a larger vessel for the tour that could carry 120 people.

Mr Mergard said they were still in negotiations with some of the applications and requirements.

"We've done the tough yards, we started here from scratch and we've gone to 12,000 passengers in one year," he said.

Agnes Water resident of nine years Lisa Brown said the Christmas and New Year break attracted many happy tourists to the region.

"There were a lot of people around shopping, everyone was happy and the weather was fabulous," she said.

The owner of Discover 1770 said tours, including the Lady Musgrave transfers, a 4WD vehicle tour and Scooteroos were heavily booked.

She said cancellations due to weather was "standard" for reef tours.



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