Sunshine Coast school holiday: Operator reports 85% occupancy levels

While many other accommodations suffer big losses of more than 30%

First reports show that a marketing campaign urging Queenslanders to “follow the Sunshine” for the September school holidays, successfully attracted visitors to the Sunshine Coast. But occupancy levels were still very disappointing for many of its accommodation operators.

The Sunshine Coast really felt the loss of Melbourne and Kiwi visitors this month. These visitors usually stay for (sometimes) two weeks at this time of year and iconic beach locations such as Noosa especially felt their loss.

Visit Sunshine Coast reports that it is too early for them to put a dollar figure on losses, mainly due to the absent Melbourne and Kiwi markets. However, for many Sunshine Coast operators, the loss is thought to be “substantial”.

Matt Stoeckel, CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast: “The September holiday season on the Sunshine Coast is down 20 to 30 percent compared to what it would be in a ‘normal’ holiday season.”

“The region would usually be at capacity during this time of the year as it is a holiday favourite for interstate visitors, particularly the Victorian market. The loss of these markets has also impacted rates and length of stay.

“Instead, our industry is working hard to attract increased visitors to our destination from across Queensland. However, even then, we are seeing that uncertainty is continuing to impact travel sentiment with a lot of visitors taking a ‘wait and see’ approach and booking holidays last minute.”

Mooloolaba was successful in attracting families with the average occupancy for the area above 75 percent. STR, The Australian Accommodation Monitor showed that the top-performing hotel in Mooloolaba was Landmark Resort & Spa.

Brett Thompson owner and manager of Landmark Resort & Spa told us he was happy with the 85 percent occupancy levels his resort achieved for the school holiday period and the 95 percent occupancy achieved for the rest of the month.

He added that although the resort’s occupancy did not match levels achieved in the September 2019 school holiday, they were much better than the same time in 2020, a time when the state was just coming out of the first lockdown.

Mr Thompson, who is also on the Chamber of Commerce in Mooloolaba, suggests the reason behind Mooloolaba having achieved better occupancy levels compared to other Sunshine Coast locations is due to the various Visit Sunshine Coast marketing campaigns and the people those campaigns have reached.

He also points out that the Mooloolaba is the ideal location for families holidaying with children.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast also suffered significant losses and Tropical North Queensland remained whisper-quiet throughout the whole holiday period.

Paul Hammond, Business Development Manager Pacific at STR shared further insights on Linkedin, highlighting how much the current restrictions impacted occupancy levels in Queensland with a focus on accommodation performance review, a comparison of bookings for the June/July 2021 school holiday period to the September/October period.

Mr Hammond confirmed that Sunshine Coast’s occupancy levels saw a significant drop from the earlier school holiday period but the Gold Coast had suffered even bigger losses, with occupancy only reaching around the 40 percent mark. He also reported that Tropical North Queensland experienced the most drastic downturn in occupancy levels in what should have been their peak season.

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