The constant flow of intrastate travellers choosing Broome for their backyard getaway could jingle all the way to Christmas and beyond, leaving the town crossing its fingers it has the workers to meet the unprecedented demand. Tourism numbers in the seasonal town normally take a dramatic drop after the September school holidays, as the wet-season weather begins to kick in, and do not reset until the following Easter. But bookings for tour attractions, hotels and flights are continuing to roll in, with travellers unable to book their regular festive-season flights to Bali or the Eastern States. There has been a massive rise in intrastate visitors since the Kimberley border reopened in June, caravan parks, accommodation, restaurants and operators all near capacity over the past four months. The number of passengers touching down at Broome International Airport in September was only down 20 per cent on 2019, despite WA being shut off from the rest of the world. BIA chief executive Paul McSweeney said arrival numbers for the rest of the year were looking positive for the airport, which had recently moved into the top 10 busiest terminals in the nation. Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa, the largest hotel in Broome, is now completely booked out until the end of next month, with numbers above average through to January. Manager Stuart Kentish said demand was strong and he was hoping to be able to maintain staff to facilitate the unexpected wet-season interest. Zanders restaurant and bar recorded its most profitable month ever in July and smashed its budgets in August and September. The eatery, overlooking Cable Beach, normally closes during the quiet month of February, but general manager Stuart Voce, pictured with function co-ordinator Holly Chinn, said he was considering keeping it open for the first time. “I expect it to maybe drop off a bit after holidays and then pick up again around Christmas, I’ll definitely look at not closing next February,” he said. “The thing will be keeping staff over the wet season, though. “It’s not great trying to keep staff right now and it is probably only going to get harder.” Red Sun Camels owner John Geappen said all his sunset rides, which are regarded as a must-do activity for visiting families, were full for coming weeks and he was taking reservations months in advance. “Traditionally, as soon as we hit September-October it all starts to decline quite rapidly but it doesn’t look like that’s happening for me this year,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of future bookings and seeing as the numbers at resorts are looking good, that is likely to flow on to us, because roughly one in 10 visitors jump on a camel.” Broome Fishing Club president Wes Francks said more than 300 meals were being served up each night at the venue’s outdoor dining area. “Since COVID we have been kicking goals and absolutely smashing it, and it’s not the same people — we are seeing fresh faces each night,” he said. Australia’s North West Tourism chief executive Natasha Mahar recently surveyed 19 accommodation owners in Broome and found almost half were almost at capacity for October, with some reporting their strongest wet-season bookings in the past two decades. “With the expectation that we’ll experience a busier than usual wet season right through into 2021, this is a fantastic opportunity for a wide range of local businesses including retailers, restaurants, cafes and more to also benefit and to make up the ground lost earlier in the year,” she said. Broome Visitor Centre manager Mel Virgo said she hoped the strong uptake would flow through to operators, who normally relied on interstate and overseas tourists. “The numbers are positive and we are clearly extending out towards Christmas, and we will continue running campaigns to keep people coming here into the new year,” she said. Caravan parks are one of the few sectors unable to buck the ordinary wet-season trends, with numbers slowly starting to dwindle. But Tarangau Caravan Park owner Grant Garrett said he was almost completely booked out across the 2021 peak period. “Numbers always drop off because of the weather — it’s traditional for us — but what I’m already seeing is huge booking numbers for next year,” he said. The Federal Government announced on Sunday it would continue to underwrite regional flights to WA hotspots like Broome for another six months to help the tourism industry recover.