Aussie holidays in crisis amid worrying price hikes

Holidays in Australia are in crisis as the cost of accommodation rises to staggering heights and airports are hit by huge numbers of canceled flights.

Holidays in Australia are in crisis as accommodation costs skyrocket and airports are hit by massive numbers of canceled flights amid a crippling staff shortage.

It hasn’t been cheap to go on holiday domestically for years, but staggering numbers show that things have gone from bad to worse over the past 13 months.

Dates from trivago — which tracks hotel price shifts from more than 400 booking sites for more than 2 million hotels worldwide in its hotel price index — has uncovered an astronomical rise in the price of an Aussie getaway.

It shows that the average price of a hotel in Sydney has increased by almost 25 percent in the past year, while hotel rooms in Melbourne have seen a 24 percent increase over the same period.

This means that the average cost of a hotel room in Sydney is now above $240 per night, compared to $206 per night a year ago. For Melbourne, the average cost is now $239, up from $200 in August last year.

If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll also pay more, as the average cost of ski holiday accommodation in Australia has risen 17 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to KAYAK

Chaos at the airports

It’s not just hotels that Australians face when traveling inland, with huge numbers of flights being cancelled.

New figures show that one in 13 Qantas flights was canceled in May as the airline faced staffing problems after laying off huge numbers of workers during the pandemic.

Domestic performance statistics for May — published by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) — show Qantas canceled 7.6 percent of scheduled flights that month, up from 5.1 percent in April.

It’s not the only airline to drop flights, with Virgin Australia canceling 5.1 percent of flights in May.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce said the airline was fixing the issues, admitting it was “a little rusty” after the pandemic broke out.

“We are adjusting our schedule and bringing additional resources,” Joyce said at an international aviation conference in Qatar this week.

“We are currently resolving the operational issues to bring our on-time performance back to where it was before Covid-19. And we think we will have in the coming weeks.

“That’s the same problem that I think the whole industry is facing and there’s that restart of a company that’s been in hibernation for a few years. And I don’t think it should come as a surprise that it’s a little rusty.”

Staff shortages to blame

The problems facing hotels are also due to staffing issues, according to Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson, who said a surge in accommodation bookings came at a time when the industry was still struggling to find workers.

“We still have over 100,000 working holidaymakers at pre-disability levels and over 150,000 international students. These two alone are a big part of the hotel and catering staff,” he said the guard

Johnson said staff shortages forced many hotels to operate at 70 to 80 percent capacity, when current staff had already been stretched to their limits.

“I know hotels that are still looking for 30 to 40 employees, instead of two restaurants they only have one,” he said. “They don’t take conference bookings because they just don’t have the staff to manage those bookings.”

Aussies still itch to travel

Despite all this and the rising cost of living, Australians are not deterred from travelling, according to Consumer Sentiment Tracker from Finder

More than one in two (57 percent) Australians are planning a getaway in the next 12 months, including 32 percent planning to travel within Australia, 12 percent planning to travel internationally and 13 percent planning to travel at home and abroad.

This is an increase of 49 percent in December.

According to Finder’s Covid Comfort Indicator, Aussies rate their comfort level with overseas travel at 4.3 out of 10, up from 2.7 in January. They are slightly more comfortable traveling domestically, with a score of 6.1 out of 10.

“The travel industry is finally seeing some normalcy for the first time in over two years. People aren’t so concerned about prices, they just want to travel again,” said Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder.

Tips to save money

Mr. Kidman encouraged travelers to look for travel deals to keep costs down.

“You can save by not paying extra for checked baggage, but remember that the airline often checks at the gate whether you have exceeded the weight allowance. Pack light and invest in a luggage scale,” he said.

“Regular airline sales can certainly help you save. Virgin Australia’s Happy Hour sale usually runs on Thursdays from 4pm to 11pm, while Jetstar’s Friday Fare Frenzy usually starts on Fridays from noon to 8pm.

He said you should sign up to your favorite travel sites and the airline’s newsletters and social media channels so that you can quickly grab clearance sales.

“If you have specific destinations in mind, check the regular prices now. That way you know if that sale price is really a bargain,” he said.

“The key to making the most of any travel sale is to be flexible with dates and open-minded about destinations. Do not forget to take out your travel insurance as soon as you have completed your trip.”

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