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Easter travel shift: Aussies flock to regional beaches and holiday parks

Booking trends for Easter holidays

All images courtesy of Big 4

As Aussies enjoyed the first school holidays of the year, data from Expedia revealed a notable shift in travel preferences, with regional beach destinations emerging as the top choice. Concurrently, families seeking an affordable and enjoyable Easter weekend escape turned to Holiday Parks, as indicated by data from BIG4 Holiday Parks.

Despite the allure of bustling Australian cities, it seemed that the call of sun, sand, and sea was irresistible, as regional beach hideaways dominated the top destination lists across most states.

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The latest statistics from Expedia Group’s search data on the most sought-after Easter travel destinations confirmed that while the nation’s capitals retained their popularity as tourist spots, it was the coastal retreats that captured the attention of travellers.

Leading the pack was the iconic Gold Coast, which secured its position as the most searched regional destination in Australia. With its sunny coastal weather offering a final taste of warmth before winter set in, it was no surprise that holidaymakers flocked to its shores.

Queensland’s other seaside gems, including the Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Whitsundays, and Port Douglas, rounded up the state’s top regional locations, painting a picture of a coastal paradise ripe for exploration.

BIG4 Yamba

In New South Wales, Port Stephens claimed the top spot, followed closely by Shoalhaven, Central Coast, Coffs Harbour, and Newcastle, highlighting the state’s diverse coastal offerings.

Similarly, Victoria’s Surf Coast led the pack of the most searched travel spots, with East Gippsland, Geelong, and Bendigo adding a touch of variety to the mix.

Wye Beach Hotel

Michael Dykes, VP Market Management APAC at Expedia Group, emphasised the significant benefits that the surge in interest for regional travel would bring to local operators.

“After a macro-level shift to international travel in the post-COVID period dampened the growth of the domestic travel market[2], it is really encouraging to see that Aussie families are choosing to explore their own backyards these Easter holidays,” Mr Dykes said.

“From as north as the shimmering shores of Port Douglas, to as south as the spectacular Victorian coastline, these iconic regional destinations offer more than just a sunlit getaway. It’s an opportunity for local hoteliers to grow their reach during what is typically the quiet shoulder season and do everything they can to capture this uptick in demand.”

“Leveraging the tools and technologies that online travel agents like Expedia Group offer will help to enhance their visibility and drive bookings, all by simply doing things like aligning offerings with traveller interests, highlighting local experiences, and offering comprehensive package deals.”

The interest in regional travel mirrored findings from Expedia Group’s Unpack ’24 report, which predicted a resurgence of interest in rural regions and countryside escapes.

For Australian families seeking an affordable and enjoyable Easter weekend escape, holiday parks emerged as the ideal choice. According to research by BIG4 Holiday Parks, branded parks in the network were bustling with 80 percent cabin occupancy and 79 percent site occupancy for the Easter long weekend. 

Big 4 CEO Sean Jenner told AccomNews: “Many people are feeling the financial pressure because of the cost-of-living crisis, but they still want to get away for a well-earned break. For travellers, it makes sense that BIG4 is their first port of call when booking a holiday, especially now that we have over 250 parks available to book on our website from right across Australia, from BIG4 and more.

“We were thrilled by the turnout at our parks over the Easter weekend this year. Easter is such a special time to be with family and friends and we pride ourselves on being able to offer an experience that everyone will enjoy. Our guests have created their own culture. They go out of their way to say ‘hi’ and make new friends with fellow campers. This culture makes BIG4 perfect for holiday festivities and we couldn’t be happier with the occupancy rates over the long weekend.”

BIG4 Gold Coast

Consistantly sought after, the Gold Coast emerged as Queensland’s top holiday destination, with the BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park standing out as the most popular park, accounting for 25.03 percent of sales and 9.86 percent of bookings. However, beloved Bundaberg recorded the highest number of bookings, sitting at 16.28 percent.

The north coast emerged as the top holiday destination in NSW, representing 42.11 percent of sales and 39.74 percent of bookings. Among them, BIG4 Beach Holiday Park in Coffs Harbour stood out as the most popular park.

BIG4 St Helens

Tasmania’s top holiday destination was the east coast. However, BIG4 Strahan Holiday Park Retreat was the most popular park, accounting for 21.39 percent of bookings… Go west coast! 

Darwin took the top holiday destination in the NT, with the BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park the most popular park.

Australia’s South West was the top holiday destination in WA and BIG4 Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park its most popular park. 

Finally in South Australia, The Fleurieu Peninsula was the top holiday destination, with BIG4 Stuart Range Outback Resort being the most popular park.

 

[1] Based on Expedia Group search data for the period of 29th March to 14th April 2024

[2] Tourism Research Australia report 2023 – link

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