With most of Australia open for business, tourism operators are expecting a busy 2022 as confidence builds among travellers.
Dee Davenport, who runs the Granite Belt Brewery in Stanthorpe in southern Queensland, is busy taking bookings from people further into the year.
She’s urging holidaymakers to be organised and to get in early.
“The confidence is there this year, as compared to last year when you had continual lockdowns,” Ms Davenport said.
“Think about the year ahead and if they want to come … book now.”
Direct booking benefits
Tourism operators are also encouraging people to book directly with them.
Graham Higgins, the owner of Vacy Hall in Toowoomba, said direct bookings over the past 18 months had been a silver lining throughout the pandemic as people ditched online accommodation booking agencies.
A man in front of a house smiling.
Graham Higgins says he offers savings to those who book directly with his business.(ABC Southern Queensland: David Chen)
“[People] were much more willing to keep all the revenue with operators and that was wonderful,” Mr Higgins said.
But as travel opens up, Mr Higgins is worried more tourists are returning to “lazy, complacent travel booking behaviour”.
He said travellers who went through well-known websites were missing out on discounts offered by accommodation providers.
“I’m someone who rewards people with cheaper prices for booking direct,” he said.
“It would cost businesses, at least in my business, it’s 10 per cent of my revenue, and you can’t afford to not have that 10 per cent of the revenue.”
Mr Higgins said online travel agents often added to the cost of accommodation without adding any value.
“They don’t make a bed, they don’t cook breakfast … they don’t clean a room, they don’t do anything. All they do is add to the cost,” he said.
when made directly with them.(Supplied: West Hotel)
Ms Davenport said direct bookings also made it easier for people to make cancellations or changes.
“We find it can be quite time consuming and hard to actually make modifications to [online agency] bookings. Direct bookings would be fantastic,” she said.
“We’ve got the inside information. You can’t just get that from a booking agent.
“We love telling people all about the different things to do in the region.”
Shorter trips on the cards
Despite many more travel options, Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind still expects people to favour holidaying locally and taking smaller trips.
“I think we will continue to see a focus on domestic destinations, shorter trips, and trips that allow you to be a little bit separate from crowds,” Mr Gschwind said.
“There’s certainly opportunities for regional destinations in Queensland.”
He said tourism operators were also eagerly waiting for international tourists to return to Australia.
“I think Queensland may well be in a very strong position to cater to the international market, a market that is also looking for open space, clean air, clean water,” he said.
Ms Davenport is just asking for some patience and understanding from travellers, as staff continue cop abuse over mask and vaccine mandates.
“It’s just terrible that people are still doing that … when they know that it’s completely out of our control,” she said.