Australian families hoping to take advantage of their first undisturbed summer holiday in four years to holiday to places like the Gold Coast, Bali and Fiji are expected to pay almost double what they were pre-pandemic.
Vacation costs, which include car rentals, hotel stays and airfare, have been rising since April but are set to peak in December and January, with the average cost of a family vacation up to 111%, according to travel comparison site Kayak.
Sophie Wright, a 44-year-old mother of three at Geelong, thinks she’s found a great school holiday deal — an all-inclusive package at Fiji’s Naviti Resort for $999 per person. However, the five-day vacation turned out to be one of the family’s most expensive vacations.
“When I got to the quote stage and they added the airfare, I realized it was more than I thought I’d be paying,” Wright said. “There were five of us, so at most resorts, this shoots you into two rooms at once.”
In addition to the $13,000 vacation — $7,000 of which was airfare — the family is owed about $1,500 in passport fees.
“Everyone’s passports expired. Plus we had to pay for priority processing. It was about $150 more per child — and we had to recover one of them, for our 13-year-old,” Wright said Talk about experience when it comes to biting your nails.
It will be the last time she pays this much for a family trip, as interest rates, groceries and fuel continue to take their toll.
“Family holidays are going to be very different in the next 12 months to two years, and a lot of people are going to have to cut back because everything is going up,” Wright said.
Fiji wasn’t the only destination costing Australian families dearly in December.Exclusive flight accommodation data from kayak net The route showing the biggest increase in fares over the school holidays was Gold Coast-Melbourne, where economy class fares for a family of four soared 111 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
This was followed by return services from Melbourne and Sydney to Bali, up 67 per cent and 64 per cent respectively, and return services from Sydney to Fiji, up 62 per cent.
Mike Arnot from aviation analytics firm Cirium said it wasn’t just Australians driving up demand and the cost of flying as international tourism rebounded.
“Compared to 2019, there are fewer domestic flights and fewer seats – about 3 per cent. So you have a situation of strong demand and slightly constrained supply,” Arnott said.
But Arnott said the launch of new ultra-low-cost carrier Bonza in Australia could bring some comfort to travelers.
“Ultra-low-cost airlines can have an immediate impact on routes, cutting fares in half or more. Examples abound, including in the US, Canada and Europe,” he said.
It’s not just high ticket prices that are stressing families out. Matthew Burke, regional director at global hotel market data provider STR, said average occupancy rates in capital cities were up 20-30 per cent and in rural areas 30-40 per cent compared to 2019/2020.
Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Michael Johnson said while conditions were improving, industry staffing shortages were partly driving up hotel prices.
“Two weeks ago we had 4,875 working holidaymakers arriving in the country in one week. We haven’t seen numbers like this since pre-pandemic,” Johnson said.
He said a new government reform coming into force this week would also help address labor shortages by allowing Australian adults to boost their annual income over the next 12 months without affecting their superannuation.
Nicola Carmichael, Kayak brand director, noted that consumers can still be lucky enough to find great deals.
“We recommend planning ahead and being flexible with your dates,” says Carmichael. Setting sales reminders can also save families hundreds of dollars. “Price Alerts also notify you when flight or hotel prices drop while you’re traveling, saving you from having to manually search – and of course, helping you save money.”
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Percent increase over December 2019 and January 2020
- Sydney to Bali averaged $6208, up 55 per cent
- Melbourne to Bali averaged $5688, up 43 per cent
- Average fare from Sydney to Fiji is $4011, up 33 per cent
- Sydney to Gold Coast fares average $1119, up 20 per cent
- Average fare from Melbourne to Gold Coast is $1388, up 25 per cent
- The average cost of accommodation in Bali is US$365, up 35%
- The average price of accommodation on the Gold Coast is $505, up 53%
Based on Kayak data Airfare/accommodation increase for 2 adults, 2 children (travel 21 Dec 2022 – 29 Jan 2023) since the same period in 2019/2020.