The battling Australian Dollar combined with the hidden costs of travelling overseas and lower fuel prices are encouraging more Australians to take their 2018 Christmas holidays closer to home.
“In many of Australia’s favourite holiday meccas such as Queensland’s Gold Coast, and the central, south and far north coasts of NSW, and South Australia’s Port Lincoln, holiday occupancy rates for Christmas and the New Year are nudging 100%, noted Angus Raine, Executive Chairman, Raine & Horne.
Mr Raine continued, “Predicted lower fuel prices this Christmas mean more Australians will be happy to drive to popular Australian holiday destinations, which are within a 3-hour drive of their homes.
“It’s also possible to enjoy some significant savings by booking accommodation in a holiday house rather than a resort, which can also be a more comfortable option for families.”
No vacancies on the Gold Coast
On the Gold Coast Clark Brackenridge, Principal of Raine & Horne Surfers Paradise says occupancy rates for holiday apartments for the Christmas/New Year period have already hit almost 100%.
He added, “That our holiday lettings for Surfers Paradise are booked out this far out from Christmas is very unusual, and around 80% of our bookings are for Australian-based holidaymakers.
“We are receiving feedback from many of our holiday guests that the falling Australian dollar and the higher travel costs to overseas destinations such as Hawaii have swayed them to stay in Australia for Christmas.
“Throw in the costs of local taxes and tips, and a $15 meal in Hawaii quickly hits $20 before you know it. It’s these hidden costs along with the falling Australian dollar that are convincing more holidaymakers to take a break in Australia this summer.”
Mr Brackenridge said some budget accommodation with still be available in Surfers Paradise, however, holidaymakers will need to move swiftly to make a summer booking.
Far north coast of NSW attracting more Queenslanders
On the far north coast of NSW, Denise Quick, Principal of Raine and Horne Yamba said holiday bookings and enquiries were solid for the Christmas and New periods, and that vacancies are filling fast.
“We continue to attract significant numbers of people from Brisbane and South East Queensland as well as from our traditional areas such as the NSW Tablelands and Sydney,” said Ms Quick.
“Improved roadway infrastructure has reduced travelling times from South East Queensland to Yamba which has attracted more holidaymakers from across the border to the Clarence River region.”
“More holidaymakers are choosing Yamba because it's beautiful, relaxed, and perhaps a less hectic and more affordable option than other nearby coastal holiday getaways.”
For example, a spacious waterfront at 31 The Peninsula, Yamba, perched on a canal flowing into the Clarence River, is available from $2,295 for a week covering the Christmas break.
Ms Quick adds, “At the lower end of the market, a house in Yamba that is close to the beach or river, but with no views will let for $1,395 a week over Christmas/New Year.”
Airbnb effect underpins healthy Central Coast Christmas holiday occupancy rates
Brett Hunter, Director Raine & Horne Terrigal, Avoca Beach, and Saratoga said Christmas holidaymakers will flock to Terrigal, North Avoca, Avoca, and Wamberal, which represent 54% of absolute holiday beachfront titles between Sydney and Newcastle.
“Holiday enquiries have been about 20% higher than 2017, and it’s fair to attribute some of this spike to the Airbnb effect, which is encouraging more holidaymakers to choose holiday properties over hotels and motels,” said Mr Hunter.
“We were down on our bookings about two months ago, and it looked like it was going to be slower Christmas than normal. “However, we are now taking about 40 calls a day when normally we would get about 20 enquiries at this time of year.”
Despite the late start, 2018 bookings are level pegging 2017, which “is incredible as we don’t normally experience a run on the holiday letting market this late in the year,” noted Mr Hunter.
“We’d normally be booked solid by the end of September. That said we still have vacancies but they’re running out fast.”
More families booking later for the Christmas break, securing less than, or more than a week away, and often travelling with other families are several new vacation trends noted Mr Hunter.
“It is encouraging that the many lifestyle appeals of the Central Coast are competing well against other holiday destinations. There are generational factors at play with parents returning to the region where they enjoyed holidays as children, to recreate similar experience for their broods.”
No vacancies for Australia’s seafood capital
Port Lincoln in South Australia is a city on the Lower Eyre Peninsulas and is arguably Australia’s seafood capital and a popular destination for holidaymakers from Adelaide, northern Australia and the eastern states at Christmas time.
“We have a population of around 16,000 and this doubles at Christmas time, and as such occupancy rates for holiday accommodation is already close to 100%,” said Steve Prout, Director of Raine & Horne Port Lincoln.
“Nearby Coffin Bay, which is famous for its oyster farms, rises from a population of about 500 to a few 1,000 at Christmas time.”
The stunning coastline surrounding Port Lincoln is a major attraction for holidaymakers, with a two-bedroom apartment starting at $700 for the Christmas week to $2,100 for a waterfront property, notes Mr Prout.
“Some of the waterfront properties in this region are booked out as much as 12 months in advance.”