The sweet scent of freedom is in the air for millions of Sydneysiders. But could the luck of the summer vacation be over before it even begins?
With the scent of Freedom Day well and truly in the air, experts say Christmas travel may already be out of place for millions of NSW residents desperate for a vacation this holiday season.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in the words we’ve all been waiting for earlier this week – that regional travel will be back for the summer season.
But experts say those golden words have sparked a rush for accommodation booking sites, such as Stayz and Airbnb, as well as caravan and camping sites across the state.
Now, those desperate for a vacation away from home may face a hefty bill of over $ 10,000 for a week along the coast.
According to online travel booking site Wotif, while more than half of Australians plan to go on vacation before the end of 2021, the majority have yet to find a vacation home or hotel room, they is almost “too late” to do so in some areas.
At the end of the closures, a spokesperson said the platform expects bookings to increase as restrictions begin to ease as the end of the year draws near and the weather begins to fall. to warm up.
Currently, some of the demand for the Christmas and New Years season appears to be focused on intra-state travel for the Sydneysiders – with locations in Port Stephens, Newcastle, Byron Bay and Port Macquarie topping the list.
Stayz travel expert Simone Scoppa said the vacation homes platform has seen “strong demand” for reservations in New South Wales since July, with many travelers buying all they can. ” three months earlier “for the Christmas period than in previous years.
“Bookings at the moment are up 64% for November compared to bookings in 2020,” Scoppa told news.com.au.
“December is shaping up to be stable like last year, where families make their annual trips to the area as school vacations begin and occupancy is near full for many destinations across the state.
“75% of all bookings during the late December and early January booking period come from NSW, where the remainder is interstate.
“This time of year is always the most popular and the time when the nightly rates are the highest and are different from city to city.”
Following the NSW government announcement that regional travel will likely make a comeback in late October when the 80% vaccination target is met, Airbnb said five destinations in the state will be the most popular during the holiday season.
From Byron Bay (no surprises) to the mid-north coast, Jervis Bay and even Sydney – the accommodation platform said before booking, guests should always familiarize themselves with the cancellation policy – even when milestones vaccination are achieved.
“We remind everyone that before booking, travelers can review the cancellation policy that has been selected for that particular listing by its individual host,” said Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb Country Manager for Australia and the United Kingdom. New Zealand, in a statement.
“For our guest community, hosts recognize that they look for flexibility in these uncertain times, and now almost two-thirds of active listings offer a moderate or flexible cancellation policy. “
In terms of prices, while some places have remained stable, others, like Byron Bay and Yamba, have seen an increase in average prices per night as the holiday season approaches.
According to Stayz, prices in Byron Bay are up 19% from last Christmas – to an average of $ 635 per night, while Yamba is up 39% at an average rate of $ 289 per night.
A quick peek at Airbnb, and you can pick up this home in Yamba for $ 15,681 over the Christmas and New Years period, while this lush pillow in Mullumbimby has been slashed to $ 6,706 for the week.
On the South Coast, this adorable cabin in Jervis Bay for two will set you back $ 4,331 for the week, while this colorful mansion in Berry that sleeps 8 adults costs just over $ 2,500 for a seven-night stay.
But alongside the highly sought-after vacation homes, caravan parks are also reporting an increase in bookings.
Reflections Holidays has facilities in Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, Lennox Head, two in Ballina, Seal Rocks, Hawks Nest and also inland from the coast.
A company spokesperson told news.com.au they had more than 2,300 reservations at their parks in northern New South Wales for Christmas and New Years alone.
“Now that the roadmap to the NSW government takeover has been announced, we expect an increase in bookings through our parks directly or through our website as people have more confidence to be able to travel without fear of unexpected blockages, “said a spokesperson for Reflections said.
“Despite the uncertainty of being under stay-at-home orders, people are already anxious to plan their summer vacation with us. We have received over 17,000 reservation requests and calls in the past two weeks, which will only increase now that people have received clarification on travel dates.
“With some of the highest dam levels on record, our nine interior national parks will also provide an incredible experience during the summer months.”
Reflections said that while they still have some availability in several coastal and rural parks over the Christmas and New Years period, they are being picked up faster than ever.
“During this period of lockdown, our parks have really taken the opportunity to make our parks even more beautiful,” the spokesperson said, adding that inquiries on the website had increased by more than 800%. compared to last month and that 70% of that traffic was people. of Sydney looking to book a vacation.