As parts of Australia begin the first stages of reopening for business, the domestic travel industry – especially in the southern states – are set to experience an early bounce back, according to new data released by Airbnb.
As Victoria and NSW gear up for intrastate travel from June 1, permitting holidays to regional areas across each state, the home share rental site shows there has been a surge in bookings compared to the same time last year.
Around the world, Airbnb has been far from immune from the COVID-19 fallout. But the booking bump for regional destinations along the NSW coast and into Victoria shows comforting signs that the domestic sector could be heading back to pre-virus levels.
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According to the data, provided exclusively to news.com.au, domestic bookings on Airbnb have recovered to 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels (compared with the same week in 2019).
As one of the many businesses in the travel industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the data indicates a healthy future demand for domestic travel with searches in NSW alone up 488 per cent compared to April.
According to the platform, many popular regional destinations which are typically booked in summer have unexpectedly seen a surge in searches as we head into winter.
In NSW, the highest search has been for Jervis Bay, including the popular Instagram site of Hyams Beach, which has seen a 90 per cent increase year on year.
The southern parts of the state, nearing Batemans Bay as well as the Blue Mountains region – both of which are desperate for tourists to revisit following the bushfires earlier this year – have also seen an 84 per cent increase in search and booking compared with 2019.
But for those looking to head to Jervis Bay, be warned that Parks Australia and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community Council will maintain the COVID-19 protections at Booderee National Park by extending the park closure to June 23, 2020.
Located just three hours south of Sydeey, the boat ramps within the popular park will remain inaccessible, and no camping, cycling, surfing, swimming or walking will be permitted.
According to Airbnb’s country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Susan Wheeldon, Aussies appear to be choosing areas outside of capital cities and dispersing throughout the state in search of “unique and affordable getaways”.
“These positive early signs of domestic travel getting ready to make a comeback is a welcome relief for the local families and communities who depend on Australia’s tourism industry,” she said.
“We’re particularly seeing people searching for unique and affordable getaways that will give them a really authentic local experience.”
Victorians, who will also be free to roam the state to go on holidays and weekends away, appear to be holding off from immediate travel – with an increase in bookings made towards the end of the year.
“Domestic tourism will play an enormous role in driving economic recovery, especially in the regions,” Ms Wheeldon said.
“People are excited about being able to get back out there and immerse themselves in all the
things that make Australia so great – including our nation’s incredible natural beauty and
famously friendly people.”
The early signs of bookings growth will be a relief to some of around 137,000 active Airbnb listings across the country who saw bookings disappear under lockdown.
Airbnb is one of the many businesses in the travel industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, who were forced to cut 1900 staff at the beginning of May.
CNBC reports that in March 2017, Airbnb was valued at $US31 billion ($A46 billion). By the end of April 2020 it was worth $A27 billion.