State borders are open, the vaccine is on its way and many people are starting to dream of travel.
But you can forget the Gold Coast, Sydney’s harbour or Melbourne’s laneways.
Even, according to Wotif, scratch Tasmania and ignore the ACT – the travel powerhouse has announced the annual Aussie Town of the Year Awards for 2021.
Topping the list and taking home the gold for the must-visit Aussie destination this year is – Cairns.
The tropical destination was given the gong for being the gateway to one of the nation’s most-beloved natural attractions – the Great Barrier Reef.
Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said the city offered up the ideal laidback tropical lifestyle.
“To think that this humble city, which does so much for Australian tourism on an international scale, suffered a loss of more than $50 million a week during the height of COVID-19 is incomprehensible,” Mr Finch said.
“With an average nightly accommodation rate of $155 in 2020, it is time Aussies consider visiting this incredible part of Australia, that people from all over the world come to see.”
The awards, now in their fourth year, recognise trending destinations for the year ahead based on their accommodation quality, affordability and traveller satisfaction.
Using reviews and price points on its site, the Wotif team has considered destinations that have met the changing needs of travellers – amid snap border closures – over the past 12 months, by offering flexibility and good-value deals.
Cairns has been open about its dire need for domestic tourists, proclaiming that when JobKeeper ends on March 28, the town will collapse and its residents will be forced to leave.
The best of the rest
Although Cairns took out the top spot, New South Wales dominated overall, with a strong showing from Pokolbin, Mudgee, Port Macquarie and The Entrance.
Coastal destinations in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia rounded out the top 10.
In what is sure to be a controversial decision, Tasmania, the NT and the ACT all missed out on a gong.
Almost one year on from the country’s first lockdown, tourism operators continue to navigate through a difficult time for the industry but there’s increasing data to show Australians are supporting their own and travelling locally.
Research done by Wotif showed that those of us who did travel last year loved it – with 95 per cent agreeing their trip either met or exceeded their expectations, and 60 per cent more Australians agreeing there’s more to explore in their own backyard.
Mr Finch said no matter where you chose to go, there were so many reasons to travel inside
“While an overseas getaway will always have its purpose and appeal, many Aussies do not realise the unique opportunity they have in front of them – to take advantage of having this enormous playground called Australia, all to themselves.”