Tourism in the Macleay Valley's coastal towns largely remained strong this holiday season in the aftermath of the bushfire emergency.
Despite national headlines regarding the fires and warnings aimed specifically at tourists at the height of the fires, the beach communities' amazing reputations for natural beauty and great holiday lifestyle held strong.
Kempsey Shire Council's Manager Commercial Business, Gayleen Burley, said while there were significant cancellations across our coastal holiday parks during the bushfire emergency, visitation numbers seem to have bounced back.
"In November and December, we saw significant cancellations at our parks which would be indicative for all accommodation providers within our shire," Ms Burley said.
"However, the booking data for January 2020 show us that our visitors have returned.
"Council staff recently visited the popular holiday destinations of Crescent Head, Hat Head, South West Rocks, Grassy Head and Stuarts Point and found that our parks and hospitality businesses overall were doing well."
Paul Davies, CEO of NRMA Parks and Resorts, the management company for the Macleay Valley holiday parks, said it's been tough for parts of NSW battling bushfires and drought, however, despite this the five Macleay Valley parks have had a strong holiday season.
"Booking numbers were ahead of last year in January, despite some cancellations in the early part of summer," Mr Davies said.
Ms Burley said new infrastructure and the opening of some new businesses in Kempsey and South West Rocks ahead of the summer holiday period would have also helped.
"The opening of the Kempsey cinema, the new bowling alley at South West Rocks and the new bridge and amenities at Back Creek have been great drawcards for both residents and visitors," she said.
"While there's no ignoring that the fires have had a harsh impact on our entire business community, it's great news that businesses in our coastal communities have been able to pick up again this holiday period."
Mr Davies urged tourists to continue their pilgrimage to the area, confident that they wouldn't be disappointed.
"The Macleay Valley Coast, with its natural attractions, events and amazing local produce remains safe, and ready to welcome guests.
"We urge everyone to jump in the car and explore our beautiful country while supporting regional Australia."
Stay ahead with local news by signing up for the Macleay Argus newsletter here.