No vacancy: Towns all booked out in tourism revival

 

After a year of being locked down, hordes of Aussie holiday-makers are frantically snapping up getaway hot spots en masse while accommodation operators try to make up for lost time and pandemic-hit profits with massively inflated prices.

Across NSW a number of towns are already hanging out the no vacancy sign over the New Year period with everything from high end mansions to humble beach campsites booked out.

Which means get set to pay a hefty premium for what's left.

Brett and Jocelyn Williams with kids Mack, 6, and Jax, 8, from Wagga Wagga on holiday at Main Beach, Byron Bay. Picture: Luke Marsden
Brett and Jocelyn Williams with kids Mack, 6, and Jax, 8, from Wagga Wagga on holiday at Main Beach, Byron Bay. Picture: Luke Marsden

Only four Airbnb properties remain available in Coffs Harbour from December 31 to January 6 for a family of four, but it will cost between $2219 and $6932 for a seven day stay.

In comparison, a search for a similar seven-day stay for a family of four in Coffs during the second week of February - well past the holiday peak period - found 61 properties available with the cost as low as $285 (but also as high as $10,798 at the upper end of the market).

South coast haven Ulladulla fared slightly better with just seven places available ­including a $13,136 holiday home or a house in nearby Huskisson which will set you back $7088 for the same period.

 

 

The holiday rental website said more than 90 per cent of places on the Central Coast were already booked out while popular destinations like Byron Bay, Batemans Bay and Forster all had very low availability.

There were only seven properties left in Forster, ­including a mega mansion on Wallis Island which will cost visitors $26,457 to stay for a week.

At the extreme end of the short stay market, a four-bedroom villa in the Whitsunday region's popular Airlie Beach in Queensland will fetch an astronomical $157,120 for a nine-night stay.

For those who want to get more out of their buck, neighbouring beachside suburb Cannonvale, is selling a two-bedroom unit a five-minute drive from Airlie for just $149,000.

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay. Picture: Tourism Australia
Wategos Beach, Byron Bay. Picture: Tourism Australia

Accommodation website Wotif has also experienced a massive spike in bookings with Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Byron Bay and Wollongong among its most popular spots.

However, managing dir­ector Daniel Finch said it wasn't just the sea and sunshine Australians were after with increased numbers of bookings at inland destinations like regional city Dubbo and wine destination Pokolbin.

"The Snowy Mountains is also a fantastic option this summer," he said.

"You'll not only be supporting an area and community that needs the support after a challenging ski season this year, but you'll increase your chances of securing a good deal.

"If you're up for a classic summer road trip, destinations, including Tamworth, Albury and Broken Hill are still showing good availability and offer some of the country's best regional hospitality."

The website found that tourism to NSW north coast town of Yamba was up by 470 per cent compared to last year and good deals were still around with the local Yamba Waters Holiday Park offering up to 20 per cent off from ­December 14.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay. Picture: Tourism Australia
Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay. Picture: Tourism Australia

Evans Head is also a cheaper alternative to those heading toward the Queensland-NSW border with families bagging a house for nine guests for $1600 a week.

Newcastle was another ­affordable option with Ryd­ges Hotel offering up to 25 per cent off and rooms starting at $243 per night from December 14.

The slow return to normal interstate trips has also meant a number of families were ­returning to the Aussie holiday: the campervan trip.

Caravan and Camping Industry Association NSW chief executive Lyndel Gray said the industry was reporting a huge number of people trying camping for the first time - and she anticipates many will come back for more in the years to come.

Yoga studio owner Clare Lovelace, in Batesman Bay, which is almost booked out over Christmas. Picture: Liam Driver
Yoga studio owner Clare Lovelace, in Batesman Bay, which is almost booked out over Christmas. Picture: Liam Driver

Data from camping and caravan suppliers found a 40-50 per cent increase in bookings between December and February while some cabins experienced an increase in occupancy rates of more than 70 per cent for that period.  
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the "silver lining" of the pandemic was people rediscovering their own backyards while Destination NSW chief executive Steve Cox said the boost to regional areas was much needed after this year's difficult circumstances.

"We're so happy to hear our regional networks reporting a boom in visitation after many difficult months," he said.

Originally published as No vacancy: Towns all booked out in tourism revival


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