Holidaymakers in Australia are being warned they will pay more for accommodation as prices soar amid high demand, while crippling staff shortages force some hoteliers to limit visitor numbers.
Data from the Hotel Price Index of travel booking website Trivago, which analyzes prices from more than 400 booking sites, shows average hotel costs in Australia have skyrocketed since the easing of pandemic restrictions .
“Prices have gone up year on year, but they’ve been quite astronomical lately, and I think part of that reason is that we’ve just had Easter, school holidays, Anzac Day and the long weekend- end,” travel editor at Finder, said Stephanie Yip.
“There has been this pent-up demand for travel. Many of us have been locked up for two years now.
Trivago’s Hotel Price Index shows that the average cost of a hotel room in Sydney is now over $240 per night, up from $206 per night a year ago. For Melbourne, the average cost is now $239, down from $200 in August last year.
In recent weeks, massive travel demand has seen long delays at domestic airports and previously overlooked destinations, such as the South Australian hinterland, gain popularity.
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson said the rise in accommodation bookings came at a time when the industry was still struggling to find staff.
“We are still over 100,000 working holidaymakers at pre-restriction levels and over 150,000 international students down. Those two alone make up a large portion of hotel and hospitality staff,” he said.
Johnson said staff shortages were forcing many hotels to work at 70% to 80% capacity, with current staff already overstretched and stretched to the limit.
He said at the recent Vivid Festival in Sydney, many accommodation providers had complained about their inability to capitalize on the surge in demand and recover some of the crucial revenue lost over the past two years of shutdowns. .
“I know hotels that are still looking for 30 to 40 employees, instead of running two restaurants, they only run one. They don’t take reservations for conferences because they just don’t have the staff to handle those reservations.
Johnson believes the situation will improve over time and said the industry expects a large influx of students and working holidaymakers to arrive in the country in the coming months.
He said the industry was also looking for new ways to attract local staff and make better use of the existing workforce, but called on the government to help support these initiatives.
Some ideas that have been touted include giving employees who want to supplement their current job with one or two hospitality shifts a week tax relief on their extra income.
Johnson said the industry was also working to better promote hospitality roles to young Australians, especially those who left the industry after the shutdowns.
He wanted visa processing times for skilled workers to be reduced, saying it would have an immediate impact on the labor shortage.
Despite all the upward pressure on prices, Yip said vacationers shouldn’t forgo a mid-year getaway, but should keep an eye out for holiday deals and year-end sales.
She recommended people looking for something a little easier on the pocket avoid Queensland and the Snowy Mountains, which are seeing the highest demand, with the latter seeing average accommodation prices 17% higher than they were not during the last winter season.
One option for the budget conscious was camping and RVing, which Yip said was growing in popularity.
Internationally, the price situation is largely the same, with many European destinations also increasing prices to two-year highs, according to Trivago. Yip said Southeast Asian destinations such as Thailand and Bali remain the most affordable options for those looking for a radical change.