With Christmas just a few sleeps away, Aussies are scrambling to rearrange their travel plans, sending holiday rental owners into crisis mode as booking cancellations peak on the back of the most recent COVID outbreak in Sydney’s northern beaches.
While Australia looked set for a COVID-free holiday season, the return of the pandemic to Sydney’s shores has dealt a major blow to both holiday property owners and rental guests as many now rush to cancel their plans ahead of Christmas.
With a public health order prohibiting people from the northern beaches to leave their homes, unless it is for essential purposes, and banning travel into the area, holidays in and out of the region are looking grim.
As such, Aussies are rushing to cancel their plans, causing headaches for short-term rental owners.
According to homestay booking service Stayz, while cancellations of holiday homes in the northern beaches have increased, a similar trend is emerging among Sydneysiders in other parts of the city.
“We have seen cancellations of holiday homes in the northern beaches region since the recent outbreak and now more widely from Sydney-based travellers with the new interstate government advice now in place,” Stayz travel expert Simone Scoppa told Smart Property Investment.
Holiday homes have been a popular choice for Aussie families this summer, which has seen popular holiday destinations up and down the coast booked solid for the entirety of the season.
However, the northern beaches outbreak has threatened to derail the summer season for the entire tourism industry, with state and territory leaders deciding to lock out NSW residents in the wake of the growing cluster.
But Ms Scoppa sees a silver lining. According to her experience to date, the communication between travellers and holiday home owners has been on point as both sides look to resolve a mutually unfavorable situation.
“Most travellers have been working directly with the holiday home owners to communicate and to remedy changes to their holiday plans,” said Ms Scoppa.
“Our advice to travellers over this holiday period is to keep in touch with the Stayz property owner via our app and also review regularly government advice in place about travel.”
While cancellation policies have become somewhat more flexible given the COVID disruption, inevitably it is up to the property owner to draft their own policy.
“Cancellation policies on Stayz are different from property to property as they are set by the holiday home owner, so we encourage all travellers to be aware of the cancellation policies in place at the time of booking,” Ms Scoppa said.
It wasn’t long ago that NSW summer holiday rentals were bustling, with interest in Daleys Point increasing 730 per cent.
At the time, Airbnb country manager Susan Wheeldon said that many Sydneysiders were looking to escape the city this summer, with many properties booked out months in advance.
“We’re particularly seeing interest surge in regional areas within driving distance of Sydney, and that includes places like the Central Coast, Mid-North Coast, Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands,” Ms Wheeldon said at the time.
Smart Property Investment has reached out to Airbnb for a comment on the now changed situation.