Hotels full but recovery has ‘long way to go’
HOTELS across the Gold Coast have been booked out over the first weekend of the school holidays and operators couldn't be happier.
Holiday-makers desperate for a post COVID getaway have flocked to the city and are filling up vacancies.
Tourism leaders are reluctant to call it a return to normal but have praised it as the first step towards reviving the city's $6 billion industry.
At the Ocean Plaza Resort in Coolangatta, the drop in restrictions and school holidays saw the hotel fully booked after months of vacancies.
"It has been the first time since COVID that we have been booked out," the guest services manager said.
"We are definitely seeing the numbers pick up since the border announcement happened, lots of phone calls.
"Obviously what is happening in Victoria is still having an impact with a few guest from those areas not able to come but otherwise things are looking good."
The April school holidays occurred at the height of the pandemic's first wave, leaving hotels empty and theme parks closed for the first time ever.
Dean Long, chief executive at Accommodation Association of Australia, said the surge of visitors to the Gold Coast was due to a "pent up leisure demand".
"It has been a really good weekend for a lot of people," he said.
"The real issue on the Gold Coast is the missing 30 per cent spend that comes from international tourists.
"We are forecasting by the end of the year if things continue up there should be a 50 per cent occupation, down from around 80 per cent."
Despite the good news for hoteliers, the holiday letting market saw a drop in properties on offer, with holiday home owners opting to rent out long term instead of suffer a short term loss.
One Gold Coast Villa owner said they were unlikely to put their property back on the market again until all restrictions were dropped.
"When you have a single property you can't really risk having it sit empty.
"We have rented it out, so there is some consistency."
A holiday letting agent echoed the sentiment, suggesting demand for hotels may also have been driven by the drop in short term rental options.
"People have gone for safety and are renting places out, so there aren't a lot of options if you want a home for a holiday," she said.
Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said he was cautiously optimistic.
"Some hotels have told us they are doing well and the theme parks are getting people in there but we still have a long way to go," he said.
"What I can say is that we are on the right track."
Originally published as Hotels full but recovery has 'long way to go'