Qld’s most in-demand tourist destinations right now

They're the Queensland holiday havens kickstarting a tourism revival.

New data from travel giant Wotif has shown a huge surge in bookings for some of our most idyllic destinations heading in to the September school holidays.

In a year when some $10 billion has already been wiped from the state's tourism industry through the coronavirus pandemic, the coming school break is shaping as the best opportunity in months for operators to finally cash in.

It comes amid a rise in 'bleisure' holidays, with families in search of offerings with Wi-Fi and booking longer-than-average lengths of stays to combine business with pleasure, while reservations are being increasingly left to the last minute due to uncertainty over rapidly-changing travel restrictions.

Last month's Ekka holiday long weekend created a huge spike in tourism worth an estimated $500 million to the state's economy, but the longer duration of the September school break could easily double that output.

There has been a huge surge in demand since the dark days of June and July when intrastate travel was under severe restrictions limiting people to their home towns.

Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast has emerged as the most popular destination for searches on Wotif.com, followed by Surfers Paradise and Noosa, while interest in Hervey Bay has skyrocketed 200 per cent since the start of July, when Queenslanders were once again allowed to head further afield within state boundaries.

Maryborough also experienced a 180 per cent, while Warwick surged 110 per cent, following on from an unprecedented flood of visitors for the Granite Belt in places such as Stanthorpe.

Families enjoy beach cricket at Maroochydore which has been revealed as the most popular destination according to Wotif. Picture: Ben Vos.
Families enjoy beach cricket at Maroochydore which has been revealed as the most popular destination according to Wotif. Picture: Ben Vos.

Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said despite the damage done to the tourism industry this year, signs were positive for the holiday period.

"It's clear that ongoing restrictions and border closures are not deterring Queenslanders from making the most of the September school holiday break, with families escaping the city and road tripping in Queensland," he said.

"Queenslanders are fortunate to have one of the most diverse backyards to explore, and it's great to see families are embracing the warmer spring weather and remain committed to backing their own state."

He also said the rise of the work-from-home phenomenon was contributing to changed priorities for booking holidays.

"After almost six months of being confined to a home office, it's not just the kids who need a change of scenery these school holidays," he said.

"No longer bound to a quick weekend trip, many parents, particularly with older kids, are embracing the option to work from where the Wi-Fi is and enjoy an extended stay."

Tynan Curry enjoys a family day at Maroochydore Beach with sons Fergus (2) and Bruce (4). Picture: Ben Vos.
Tynan Curry enjoys a family day at Maroochydore Beach with sons Fergus (2) and Bruce (4). Picture: Ben Vos.

Research from the G'DAY Group has also found holiday-makers are increasingly leaving bookings until the last minute.

Bookings that were previously made an average of almost four weeks in advance have now been slashed to just 10 days as people shy away from long-term holiday planning.

Surveys have also found that almost a third of Australians now rank the ability to cancel or modify bookings as the most important factor when choosing their accommodation compared to prior to COVID-19.

CEO of G'DAY Group, Grant Wilckens, said the changing traveller behaviour meant tourism businesses needed to be particularly nimble.

"COVID-19 has us operating in a very different world," he said.

"The newest challenge to become apparent, is that operators need to be able to scale their operations up quickly due to last minute demand.

"For now at least, the days of being able to plan staffing and other operations based on occupancy a month or so ahead are gone - operators need to be more agile than ever before."

Tynan Curry took his young children Bruce 4, and Fergus, 2, to enjoy a day at the beach at Maroochydore yesterday ahead of the expected influx of visitors in a fortnight.


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