It was a bumper Easter long weekend in Port Stephens but not for everyone

Port Stephens was bathed in sunshine for the four-day Easter long weekend, ensuring a bumper holiday period for the vast majority of tourism operators and small businesses.

And with Easter this year combining with the April school holidays, visitors are expected to continue to roll into the Bay to take advantage of the attractions and get a taste of that friendly port hospitality.

Traditionally, Easter combined with the school holidays is one of the busiest periods on the Port Stephens calendar for the majority of tourism operators and businesses, and this past week has been no different for many, but not all, operators.

After a tumultuous 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, and the extreme wet weather event in the days leading up to this Easter, many Port operators have been reporting better than expected trade since visitors began rolling into the Bay last Friday.

The clear weather and sunny conditions over the past week has seen visitors flock to the Port, enjoying the many activities and attractions on offer.

Accommodation venues are near full and visitors are using their NSW Dine & Discover vouchers at many of the eateries and attractions.

One of the many major attractions that has heads turning in Nelson Bay this year is the return of the Hoofbeats horse and carriage rides through the town centre.

"We have been operating in Nelson Bay for about five years now and this is definitely the busiest we have ever been," said Susan Anderson.

However, not all operators are reaping the benefits. In fact, at least two sand tour businesses have suffered due to the water-logged dunes.

Operator of the popular camel rides, Rod Sansom, and 4WD Tours R Us owner, Ian Boicos, say they have been heavily impacted by the beach closures, but with conditions drying out they were hopeful of being up and running again for the final week and a half of the school holidays.

"This is our busiest time of the year and we have suffered but fortunately we have been able to run a few rides out of Sahara Trails," said Mr Sansom.

"We are hopeful that we can resume operations as soon as possible."

Mr Boicos said that his business would usually rely on the Easter trade to help them through the slow winter months.

"We have had to turn away a large number of bookings over the past three weeks and we have had to put our staff on hold. There is some hope that we will be back up and running soon and we invite visitors to use their $25 vouchers," he said.

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