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Pet cavoodle

Pets bringing in the bucks at NSW parks

Pets bring in the bucks

Four-legged friends help throw Lake Mac holiday parks a $6.5m bone

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REVENUE from council-owned caravan parks at Lake Macquarie in NSW has reached a record $6.5 million ... and pets played a major part in reaching the milestone.

Holiday parks coordinator Garry Ellem said new pet-friendly cabins at Blacksmiths Beachside and Belmont Lakeside holiday parks, and the earlier decision to welcome pets across all caravan and camping sites at Blacksmiths Beachside, had helped drive bookings.

"This has significantly contributed to the growth in park revenue and occupancy so far this financial year," he said.

"Converting two cabins at Blacksmiths Beachside and one at Belmont Lakeside to target the pet-friendly market has provided 266 additional nights usage since July 1."

Lakeshores Lake Mac's largest property management agency with almost 60 holiday rental properties on its books revealed that Christmas and New Year bookings had jumped 12 percent compared to the same period 12 months ago.

Mr Ellem said caravan and camping sites enjoyed some of the strongest growth in demand for years across all four sites in the Lake Mac holiday parks group.

Income from accommodation at Blacksmiths Beachside has risen more than 10 percent this financial year, with even stronger growth in the number of nights stayed.

Belmont Lakeside managers Peter and Stacey Jenner said up to 80 percent of holiday park guests arrived with pets.

"Our dog-friendly cabin is booked solid through to February," Mr Jenner said.

"We're looking to put more pet-friendly cabins in this year to keep up with demand."

Park visitor Sharon McCarthy said she and her family, including grandchildren Ruby and Cooper, returned to Belmont Lakeside each year because of its pet-friendly status.

"We've got a caravan and could go anywhere really, but we always come here," she said.

"We all know each other now, and the dogs know each other too."

Recent pet-friendly upgrades include new dog-wash stations at Belmont Lakeside and Blacksmiths Beachside.

Western Sydney guest Heather Williams said finding accommodation where her cavoodle Bonnie would be happy was a major factor in choosing their summer holiday destination.

"It's not only the location not too far for us to drive from Sydney but it's also the fact it's dog-friendly."

Lake Macquarie City Council manager of Arts, Culture and Tourism Jacqui Hemsley said other tourism operators were reporting an increase in last-minute holiday bookings from Sydneysiders deciding to travel north rather than to the fire-ravaged NSW South Coast.

"We've also had a couple of calls from operators who have had fire-related cancellations, where people are unable to get here due to the fires elsewhere in the state," she said.

"In these cases we have been referring our last-minute customers to these operators."



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Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
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