East Coast buzzing with holiday activity

THE populations of Tasmania's North-East and East Coast holiday towns have increased up to four times as summer visitors hit the beaches and pour money into regional economies.

The peak six weeks of the summer holidays are the busiest of the year for communities such as Bridport, St Helens, Bicheno and Coles Bay, with coastal councils adding extra maintenance shifts to keep streets and camping spots clear of rubbish.

The population of St Helens and the neighbouring coastal villages of Scamander and Beaumaris traditionally expand threefold during summer, with economies heavily reliant on a strong holiday trade.

Break O'Day Mayor Sarah Schmerl said the towns, which sport a combined population of 4000 outside peak season, had become a buzzing network of about 12,000 people since mid- December.

This includes the annual migration to holiday homes, which account for 35per cent of residences in the region.

Dorset Mayor Barry Jarvis reported a similar coastal surge at Bridport in the North-East, with the town's permanent population of 1700 ballooning to about 5000 since the end of the December school term, while the remote shack town of Tomahawk had gone from 300 to about 1000.

Cr Jarvis said council staff had also been starting earlier to empty public bins and give local businesses the best chance of capitalising on the visitor boom.

Down south, and the Glamorgan-Spring Bay region is enjoying a bumper trade just one year after bushfires devastated areas of Bicheno and Freycinet National Park.

Mayor Bertrand Cadart said Bicheno had easily tripled in sized, while Coles Bay had grown from 300 permanent residents to close to 1500.

Cr Cadart said the lesser heralded, but still popular places such as Swansea, Orford and Triabunna had grown significantly, in large part due to 60per cent of homes in the region belonging to ratepayers living elsewhere.

"The motels, hotels and caravan parks are all full, but it is these homes that are empty for 10 months of the year that are the most noticeable," he said.

Email: adruce@examiner.com.au

Twitter: @AlexDruce1987

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