Lockdown lift-off: Massive last-minute surge in holiday bookings
Aussie holiday-makers have answered the call to save our Easter season with a huge surge in Queensland bookings and travel searches since the lifting of Brisbane's lockdown.
Easter was set to be a $1 billion money-spinner for the Queensland economy with an extraordinary 3.5 million Aussies expected to holiday in the Sunshine State, before Brisbane was plunged into a three-day lockdown this week.
However, in the space of a few short hours since Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the lockdown would end at midday on Thursday, accommodation bookings and searches for Queensland destinations on Wotif.com soared.
Searches for the Whitsundays and Sunshine Coast skyrocketed 80 per cent, while the Fraser Coast experienced a 75 per cent jump compared to last week.
The Gold Coast (40 per cent) and Cairns (30 per cent) also saw significant increases which should give renewed heart to tourism operators who had been dreading an extended lockdown over Easter.
There was also a 45 per cent jump in activity for Brisbane residents following the announcement on the end of the lockdown.
Again, it was the Whitsundays and Sunshine Coast leading demand.
The data shows what many in the industry had been hoping, which was that the majority of holiday-makers would wait as long as possible before giving up on Queensland holiday plans and with the announcement to end the lockdown, travellers have responded with gusto.
Gold Coast Airport is bracing for its busiest week since before the pandemic, with more than 50 flights a day scheduled over the coming days.
While there have been some cancellations on flights and accommodation, it is hope the last-minute surge could offset most of the damage.
Ms Palaszczuk said the state's tourism industry needed every visitor possible over Easter and people could now travel with confidence that the latest COVID crisis was behind us.
"I have one simple message to Aussies looking to book a holiday this Easter - we want you," she said.
"From the Reef to the rainforest to some of the world's best beaches and cultural experiences, there's something for everyone in Queensland.
"And we've got some great deals up for grabs at destinations across the state.
"I'm urging people to come to Queensland and support local businesses and local jobs this Easter."
Her comments were mirrored by Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind, who said now was the perfect time to enjoy a holiday.
"Now is the time to look after your health and take that break that you so richly deserve," he said.
"Take your family and after all the uncertainty we've been through, get out there and experience the joy and the privilege of travelling."
Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said the surge in demand was a vote of confidence that the latest outbreak had been effectively quashed.
"While Brisbane's lockdown certainly stirred a bit of uncertainty for travellers, following today's announcement it's great to see an immediate spike in travel confidence, as travellers look to capitalise on the aligned Easter long weekend and April School holidays," he said.
Meanwhile, Virgin experienced one of the busiest booking days in the airline's history as the lifting of the Brisbane lockdown and the release of the Federal government's half-price airfare deals combined for a huge surge in travel demand.
Queensland destinations featured in nine of the top 10 routes, with Melbourne-Gold Coast the most popular.
There was an incredible 3600 per cent spike in bookings for the Melbourne to Hamilton Island route, with Sydney to Cairns also up more than 3000 per cent compared to the previous week.
Melbourne to Cairns was up almost 2000 per cent.
Across the state, Queensland bookings were up more than 75 per cent on the same date two years ago, when COVID was yet to unleash hell across the globe.
Originally published as Lockdown lift-off: Massive last-minute surge in holiday bookings