Queensland’s top five holiday hot spots as lockdown eases
Queenslanders eager to explore their own backyards are set to descend upon regional towns as lockdown restrictions ease.
With international travel out of the question for at least the next three months, country and waterside destinations are among the most popular for Queensland residents who are seeking to escape after being cooped up indoors for months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data obtained by News Corp from Airbnb has revealed Stradbroke and Moreton Islands, the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay, the Whitsundays and Toowoomba as the top five post-lockdown holiday hot spots in the state. At least 200 bookings were made in each location over late May to early June.
Airbnb said domestic travel bookings across the nation were up when compared to the same period last year, with a survey of 2200 Australians taken by the company showing nearly half of the respondents wanted to stay within a day's drive for their first post-lockdown trip.
One in two people also said the purpose of their first trip was to be with family and friends, according to the poll.
Airbnb said booking trends varied significantly and included weekends away, school holiday trips, vacations during the snow season and even Christmas holidays.
"What we're seeing is that Aussies have been really keen to stretch their legs and take the time to venture a little further into their own backyards, often visiting places they've long had on their list to see, or returning to previously loved local hot spots," Airbnb's County Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Susan Wheeldon said.
"The vast majority of the places featured in the trending destinations are within 1-4 hours drive from major metro centres, signalling the return of the road trip and regional staycations, as Australians look to make the most of their weekends."
Despite Australia's progress in suppressing coronavirus transmission rates which has resulted in a more rapid easing of lockdown restrictions, Airbnb hosts are still being urged to abide by COVID-safe guidelines.
This includes allowing guests to check-in and out by themselves, as well as sanitising all high-touch areas before and after their stay.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said domestic tourism would play an important role in Australia's economic recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic settles.
"There's never been a better time to visit the regions and as restrictions ease, we need Australians to visit communities which have endured drought, fires and the effects of COVID-19," Mr McCormack said.
"On your next weekend off, head to the bush and support the local small businesses. Those cafes, pubs and restaurants are the lifeblood of regional towns and your support will help get them to the other side."
The research comes after the Federal Government extended its international travel ban, which was established in March this year.
The ban was due to expire on June 17, but will now be in place until September 17. However, authorities have said the extension will not affect the exploration of travel "bubbles" with countries that have made strong progress in flattening the COVID-19 curve, such as New Zealand.
Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) CEO Margy Osmond said with international travel off the menu, it was "a real opportunity for some of our great destinations to benefit from visitors who would normally travel overseas particularly over the winter period."
"Of course it will take some time for real recovery but it's great to hear that people are flocking back to the regions spending money in these towns and helping to aid the recovery process," Ms Osmond said.
"If people really want to make a difference in the places they visit I'd suggest we all embrace the Empty Esky launched earlier this year in the wake of the bushfires. That is, don't take food and drinks with you buy them at the destination, shop in their boutiques, bakeries, restaurants and cafes and fill up your car at the local service station as you leave town."
"Also do your research before you go and make sure you are going to communities that are ready for visitors. We know from our research that 70 per cent of regional communities want the visitors back but it is important to be thoughtful about towns who are still in recovery from the fires."
She said recent TTF research showed Australians were eager to get back on the road, with more than two thirds of 1500 respondents planning a trip within their own state in the next six months.
Originally published as Queensland's top five holiday hot spots as lockdown eases