Australians are banking on a summer of freedom, eagerly booking holidays and weekends away as our COVID-normal edges closer.
Data shows just how keen we are to escape our four walls – even for Victorians, who are still under restrictions and barred from entering most states.
Queensland and Western Australia, which have the most stringent border rules, have recorded the largest year-on-year increase for intrastate travel queries.
Accommodation bookings are up some 50 per cent in each of those states, according to Wotif.
“Even with some interstate borders open and the possibility others will soon open, it’s clear Aussies have changed their preferences this year and are sticking to getaways within their own state,” Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said.
Airbnb has reported similar findings, with country manager Susan Wheeldon saying regional areas within driving distance of major cities were shaping up as favourites.
“In the lead up to summer, we’re finding a lot of our guests are really using our platform to search for those lesser-known, hidden gem destinations, that are perhaps up or down the coast, or inland from better-known locations,” Ms Wheeldon told TND.
Both booking sites advised any potential holidaymakers to book early to avoid disappointment.
Here’s Airbnb’s trending summer destinations, guided by inquiries
- Daleys Point, NSW
- Guilderton, WA
- Tallebudgera Valley, Qld
- Middle River, SA
- Dennes Point, TAS
- Aireys Inlet, VIC
Paying the ferryman
There are those Australians who are keen to see completely different parts of the country as soon as possible.
On Monday, Tasmania opened its borders – which have been shut for the better part of the year – signalling the start to tourism season for the island state.
The first two flights that arrived into the Tasmanian capital (from Brisbane and Adelaide) were fully booked.
Melbourne woman Jessica Snow is more than ready to see a backyard that’s not her own. She has just crossed her fingers and booked a month-long trip to Tasmania.
The 29-year-old is taking advantage of the remote working we’ve become accustomed to, and splitting her time into two weeks of holidays and two weeks of working.
Even though Victorians aren’t yet allowed to enter the state, Ms Snow’s year-long plan has been to spend New Year’s Eve in Tassie – pandemic be damned.
“It wasn’t hard to find accommodation, but I booked on purpose before the borders opened, because I think there will be a lot of Victorians looking to get down there,” Snow said.
I might be home for Christmas
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told national cabinet last week he plans to open all the borders before Christmas, giving hope to Australian families separated by state lines for the past seven months.
(Western Australia says it won’t open its doors by then.)
This is a promise Milly Burgess is banking on. The 27-year-old Melbourne woman is planning a road trip with her partner to drive to Queensland to see her family for Christmas.
That’s the best-case scenario plan, Ms Burgess said.
The second-best scenario is New South Wales and Queensland ease their borders, and she’ll meet her family halfway in NSW.
The back-up back-up plan is just to road trip around Victoria – they’ve already bought a tent.
“I generally take a trip at the end of the year but this year is special because I’m finishing my Masters, so I wanted to do something to celebrate that,” Burgess said.
Making the most of it
Many Australians had their international travel plans dashed this year – and for the foreseeable future.
While it’s disappointing for individuals, it does bring good news to Australian tourism operators, who can begin to pick up some of the $65 billion Australians spend overseas every year.
Rex and Lyn Burgess were due to visit South Africa and the UK this year. Instead, they’ve leaned into the grey nomad lifestyle, bought a motorhome and have been tripping across the northeast of the country.
“Our plan was always to spend a few years ticking off our international holiday list and then travel around Australia during our retirement – COVID just accelerated that timeline for us”, said Mr Burgess, speaking on behalf of Ingenia Holiday Parks.
“We tied up a few loose ends in Sydney, picked up the van and just started heading north – we’ve been travelling around Queensland for a couple of months now.”