Choice Hotels Asia-Pac CEO Trent Fraser

Choice Hotels Asia-Pac has declared 2021 as ‘Year of the Long Weekend’, releasing research showing 91% of people in Australia and New Zealand are planning at least one short break somewhere in the country this year.

Citing a desire to improve mental wellbeing following various periods of lockdown in 2020, the much hyped ‘pent-up demand’ is materialising in Australia’s regional areas as well as in New Zealand following the opening of the travel bubble. According to Choice’s survey, respondents also cited a change of scenery and the opportunity to reunite with family and friends as influencing factors behind their desire to take a holiday.

Breaking down the results by demographics, the research found young couples held the greatest desire to travel within their own state and were planning an average of 3.13 long weekends away in 2021. Over in New Zealand, the figures were higher still, with 95% of respondents eager to get away and explore more of their own country.

Warrnambool in regional Victoria is enjoying strong occupancy levels as Aussies hit the road.

Three in every four Australian families were planning a holiday in 2021, with 84% of these opting to hit the road to visit a destination four hours or less from their home. Western Australians said they were the least likely to venture to another state for their holiday. More than 70% of respondents said they planned to use accrued annual leave from 2020 to put towards their holiday, with hotels the preferred accommodation type, chosen by 67% of those polled.

Choice Hotels Asia-Pac CEO, Trent Fraser, said the company was firmly focused on the recovery and being able to welcome guests who are so eager to travel.

“The resilience of our franchisees, and the way they have adapted to the challenges they’ve faced with creative solutions, has been incredibly inspiring,” he said.

“They should feel confident and optimistic knowing that long weekends and road travel are leading the holiday style in 2021, which should propel healthy and consistent bookings all year.”

Quality Hotel City Centre Coffs Harbour has seen a rise in occupancies from pre-pandemic levels.

The study further confirmed evidence that regional travel is currently riding the crest of a wave in popularity, a sentiment backed by Quality Hotel City Centre Coffs Harbour franchisee, Michael Dougherty.

“We’re already noticing a significant lift in booking activity and more-so in advance bookings, especially as we edge closer to the winter holidays,” he said.

“Quality Hotel City Centre has experienced an average occupancy of 76% for the first quarter of 2021, with RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room), up 11% compared to the same time in 2019.”

The study of 1,500 respondents across Australia and New Zealand was commissioned by Choice Hotels and conducted by Stable Research last month.