With an easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the country, leading travel websites are reporting an increased number of Australians are already thinking about their post-COVID-19 getaways.
Wotif, Stayz, Airbnb and Expedia search data indicates a growing level of interest, with the emphasis on close to home.
Wotif managing director Daniel Finchsaid its data showed there is certainly a growing appetite for domestic travel when it is safe to do so.
"As state and territories begin to ease lockdown restrictions, we're starting to see travel interest for intrastate drive destinations rise and we hope this is a promising sign for local operators, who need Australia's support more than ever," Mr Finch said.
Mr Finch predicted Aussies will look to return to their tried and tested family favourites first, including destinations they're most familiar with like the Gold Coast for Queenslanders, or the South Coast for those in NSW.
"It's these areas that provide a bit of familiarity and comfort for travellers who may be wanting to get out but also want to be cautious.
"If you are planning a new trip, we strongly recommend booking options with built-in flexibility. Look for free cancellation."
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Despite Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk flagging that the state's borders may remain closed to interstate travellers for up to three months, Queenslanders themselves are thinking local.
"In Queensland, destinations within the restricted 150km radius from Brisbane are proving popular including the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast," Mr Finch said.
"Interestingly though, while we'd expect these coastal hot spots to be popular, travel interest for regional South Queensland is also rising on Wotif.com suggesting that Queenslanders, while keen to leave home, are perhaps looking for quieter escapes, away from the crowds.
"For those in North Queensland, we're seeing growing travel interest for Townsville and Cairns."
In NSW, while regional travel is not yet permitted, early signals show that the north coast including the Northern Rivers and Byron Bay are looking popular.
"With temperatures starting to drop, no doubt many are looking to head north to escape the winter chill when travel restrictions ease.
"We're also seeing strong interest for the NSW South Coast which is an excellent sign for the region that has done it exceptionally tough, following the summer bushfires.
"Areas like Shoalhaven, Wollongong and Batemans Bay make for an achievable day trip and we're certainly seeing increasing travel interest for the weeks ahead including the NSW June long weekend and July school holidays."
A spokesperson for holiday rental company Stayz confirmed the intention to travel is on the rise according to data from the past week, with lower restriction states like South Australia and Western Australia taking the lead in demand.
"Since the premiers in South Australia and Western Australia announced that travel restrictions within the states would be lifted, we have seen bookings on Stayz since last weekend increase significantly - nearly up 337 per cent and 133 per cent for WA and SA respectively week on week," the spokesperson said.
In WA, the spokesperson said the South West and Coral Coast regions are the most searched destinations right now and look to be popular for school holidays. And SA saw the Fleurieu Peninsula as the number one most searched for destination on the site for upcoming stays in the coming weeks.
Despite restrictions still being in place in NSW and Victoria, Stayz reports on average a 40 per cent increase in search, with coastal destinations like the NSW South and North Coast, Mornington Peninsula and Great Ocean Road proving popular.
"It is a sign that people are starting to dream about where they want to go on their first holiday out of lockdowns."
COVID-19 has hit the travel industry hard and Stayz has not been immune to that trend.
"We saw future bookings cancelled as travel restrictions came into play with our most popular Easter and school holiday destinations hit hardest.
"We recognise that a road trip is going to be a top priority for those Aussies that can get on the road now, as the case for SA and WA and in the future for other states."
The spokesperson said a trend we are likely to see is a shift to choosing holiday accommodation with flexible cancellation policies, catering for unforeseen future changes to travel restrictions.
"We are also working with our holiday home owners to ensure that cleanliness standards remain a continued focus, giving travellers the confidence to plan and book their next holiday with the family."
Week commencing May 4 versus week commencing May 11
Meanwhile, Expedia.com.au is reporting a 33* per cent increase in searches during the first week of May compared to the first week in April.
An Expedia spokesperson said that looking at later in the year and at beginning of 2021, Aussies are being more hopeful towards wider international travel restarting, with all-time favourite destinations such as Bali, Fiji and Hawaii making their way up the ranks.
"Interest is particularly high for these destinations at the start of 2021, which could indicate Aussies taking advantage of the school holiday period for a longer getaway."
Expedia is also urging all travellers as a first step, to check the latest travel advisories of the federal government as well as for their intended destination.
Expedia's top destinations Aussies are showing interest for the July school holiday period **
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast
- Snowy Mountains
- Margaret River
- Port Douglas
Expedia's top destinations Aussies are showing interest for later in the year (1 October - 31 December 2020) ***
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast
- Port Douglas
- North Coast NSW
Expedia's top destinations Aussies are showing interest for in early 2021 (1 January 2020 - 28 February 2021) ^
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast
Airbnb's country manager Susan Wheeldon stressed that safety and public health continue to be the top priority for Airbnb.
"We're definitely seeing a strong resurgence in people planning trips for later in the year - and into next year," she said.
"These searches are very encouraging early signs of domestic travel getting ready to bounce back and make a big contribution to economic recovery.
"That being said, it remains crucially important that everyone continues to listen closely to government advice and strictly follows the rules. To that end, we wrote to our host and guest community just last week to again remind them of the need to adhere to local restrictions."
- *Based on hotel search data on Expedia.com.au for the period of 4 - 10 May 2020 compared to 6 - 12 April 2020
- **Based on hotel search data on Expedia.com.au for the search dates of 1 - 11 May 2020, for the check-in dates of 27 June - 20 July 2020 (July school holiday period)
- ***Based on hotel search data on Expedia.com.au for the search dates of 1 - 11 May 2020, for the check-in dates of 1 October - 31 December 2020
- ^Based on hotel search data on Expedia.com.au for the search dates of 1 - 11 May 2020, for the check-in dates of 1 October - 31 December 2020