Sydney lockdown, Victoria hard border could lead to big holiday discounts

Regional NSW residents could be set to score discounts on stays in Byron Bay as Covid restrictions prevent Sydney and Melbourne residents from travelling. Photo: Supplied
Regional NSW residents could be set to score discounts on stays in Byron Bay as Covid restrictions prevent Sydney and Melbourne residents from travelling. Photo: Supplied

Holidaymakers outside of Covid hotspots could be set to benefit from discounts on accommodation as the sector scrambles to make up for cancelled bookings from Sydneysiders and Victorians.

The ongoing Sydney lockdown and Victoria's hard border meant Campbell Korff's accommodation business in Byron Bay currently had "zero" visitors from those areas, while Queensland's strict quarantine requirements meant few were making the trip south.

It comes at what would typically be a busy time of year for the Byron area, with the school holidays and festivals like Splendour in the Grass and the Byron Writers Festival, which have either been postponed or cancelled for 2021.

"Revenue is literally next to zero at the moment, we have a smattering of bookings at the moment," Mr Korff said.

His business, Byron Bay Accom, handles bookings and property management for residential properties offered as short-stay accomodation, along with hotels and serviced apartments.

"Obviously with the Sydney lockdown and Victoria's ongoing restrictions, as well as Queensland, really our only market at the moment is regional NSW and so we've had to specifically focus on that market and offer pretty big incentives," Mr Korff said, adding that an estimated 30-40 per cent of winter business came from Victoria alone.

The upside of the situation is that prospective holidaymakers from regional NSW could benefit from the downturn.

"[Discounts are] a little bit of a property by property proposition, we're managing multiple properties from different owners and we are formulating offers," he said.

Some of the potential offers include a stay four nights, get two nights free deal, "effectively a 30 per cent discount," according to Mr Korff.

"It's best for people to get in contact and work out what they are looking for and then we can cut them a deal," he said.

Other than the price savings, any visitor to Byron would enjoy something increasingly rare in the usually buzzing spot - solitude.

"The biggest incentive is that no one is here. Restaurants are empty, the beaches are empty - it really is the best time of year to be here. There are whales going by in the hundred. For regional people who want to have a holiday in Byron like it was in the '80s [before the tourism boom], now is the time to come."

At the other end of the temperature extreme, holiday letting companies in Victoria's High Country are also having to quickly adapt to changing travel restrictions.

Simmone Neumann manages Alpine Getaways, a holiday letting company with a portfolio of 100 properties, the majority of which are located in Dinner Plain, 13 kilometres from Mount Hotham.

"When it was Victoria and NSW [in lockdown], we were basically the island in the sky with absolutely no guests. It basically stopped 100 per cent of our business," Ms Neumann said.

One of Alpine Getaways' listings in Dinner Plain, Victoria. Photo: Supplied

One of Alpine Getaways' listings in Dinner Plain, Victoria. Photo: Supplied

It wasn't the first time this year she's had to manage a change in travel restrictions this year, with last-minute changes meaning Victorians were unable to stay for the opening weekend of the season.

"We probably had about 98 per cent booked when we had to stop Melbourne people coming up. I was able to reinvent the wheel a bit and drop prices down and attract a lot of new people to come and visit who wouldn't have been able to afford to previously," she said.

With the easing of travel restrictions in Victoria, bookings for some properties had swelled although many properties were being advertised at "more affordable" rates than they would be pre-Covid.

But restrictions on multiple families sharing the same property meant that larger properties were still proving difficult to let.

That fact, combined with a number of last-minute cancellations, meant Victorian travellers could score a discount on properties if they had flexible travel plans.

"Absolutely, I do have people contacting me and I say I don't have anything available today but do check in because it might change," Ms Neumann said.

Inside Launceston Airbnb rental 'Mr Wooden Box'. Photo: Moxxi Property

Inside Launceston Airbnb rental 'Mr Wooden Box'. Photo: Moxxi Property

In Tasmania, Airbnb management company company Moxxi Property - based in Launceston - had been proactively lowering listing costs in response to mainland travel restrictions, owner Lauren Heys.

"Every house is different so we have premium listings that are typically $800 per night that are right down at 50 per cent discount," she said.

The company also offers a ten per cent discount on seven day stays and 20 per cent off monthly bookings.

Ms Heys said that bookings had dropped by around 40 per cent since the Sydney lockdown but that the end of restrictions in Victoria had already led to an increased number of bookings from that state.

"It's an awesome time to visit Tasmania, there's snow on mountains and unlike NSW or Victoria, you can be the only one there on a winter's day," she said.

This story 'Byron like it was in the '80s': How regional travellers can benefit from city lockdowns first appeared on Newcastle Herald.