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Short-stay rentals in demand as Victorians holiday at home

By Emma Smith
Short-stay rental operators around Victoria say they “haven’t stopped” over the past week as Melbourne residents scrambled to book intra-state holiday accommodation in time for the school holidays, and others cancelled interstate travel in the wake of the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.

Ashlea Ferguson from Surf Coast Holiday Rentals in Torquay said the phone hadn’t stopped ringing since it was announced last week that restrictions banning Melburnians from travelling any more than a 25-kilometre radius from their home would be lifted.

“In the past few days, we went from having next to no bookings to constantly taking bookings,” she said.

Ms Ferguson said, “it’s great for our little towns”, as well as short-stay accommodation owners who had suffered huge financial losses during multiple COVID-related lockdowns, which saw Melbourne residents unable to travel, a loss of interstate visitors, and the closure of international borders.

The impacts of COVID-related travel restrictions since March last year have seen many short-stay accommodation owners move their properties to the long-term rental market to avoid them sitting empty.

Ms Ferguson said many of the bookings in recent days were from Victorians who had planned to go to Sydney and now couldn’t, and Melburnians excited to be able to travel to regional areas for the school holidays.

“Most of our bookings are coming from Victorians because they can’t go interstate, and many haven’t been able to travel outside Melbourne for the past few weeks,” she said.

“As soon as those restrictions eased, we had a lot of bookings come in, especially for the school holidays. “We went from forgetting how to make an actual booking because it had been so quiet to taking bookings non-stop.”

Jenny Chalwell, the owner of Bright Escapes, said despite travellers from Sydney having to cancel accommodation in the area over the past couple of days, short-stay accommodation in the region was heavily booked throughout the school holidays.

She said Victorian holidaymakers, particularly from Melbourne, who had their travel restrictions eased only last Friday, had made up for the loss of bookings from Sydney travellers.

“It’s been very, very busy since the restrictions in Victoria were eased,” Ms Chalwell said.

“In fact, over the past two weeks, we’ve had three girls manning the phone with people either making bookings, deferring bookings, cancelling bookings or changing dates.

“A lot of the existing bookings we had for the school holidays have had to be changed because of what’s happening in Sydney.”

However, she said with more Victorians unable to or not wanting to travel interstate for “fear of getting stuck in another state”, she had seen an increase in bookings from Victorians.

“We are seeing Victorians cancelling their interstate holidays until everything settles down again and booking accommodation closer to home,” she said.

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