Are you planning your next vacation? Here’s what tour operators say you should think about

With most of Australia open for business, tourism operators expect a busy 2022 as confidence grows among travellers.

Dee Davenport, who runs the Granite Belt Brewery in Stanthorpe in South Queensland, is busy taking bookings later in the year.

She urges vacationers to plan ahead and arrive early.

“The confidence is there this year, compared to last year when you had continuous lockdowns,” Ms Davenport said.

Advantages of direct booking

Tour operators are also encouraging people to book directly with them.

Graham Higgins, the owner of Vacy Hall in Toowoomba, said direct bookings over the past 18 months had been a silver lining throughout the pandemic as people abandoned online accommodation booking agencies.

Graham Higgins says he offers savings to those who book directly with his company.(Southern Queensland ABCs: David Chen)

“[People] were much more willing to keep all revenue with the operators and that was wonderful,” Mr Higgins said.

But as travel opens up, Mr Higgins fears more tourists will revert to “lazy and complacent travel booking behaviour”.

He said travelers going through well-known websites were missing out on discounts offered by accommodation providers.

“I’m someone who rewards people with cheaper prices for direct booking,” he said.

“It would cost businesses, at least in my business it’s 10% of my revenue, and you can’t afford not to have that 10% of revenue.”

Mr Higgins said online travel agents often increase the cost of accommodation without adding value.

“They don’t make a bed, they don’t make breakfast…they don’t clean a room, they don’t do anything. All they do is drive up the cost,” he said .

Bed and lamp in the bedroom of the West Hotel in Sydney's Barangaroo district.
Tour operators say it’s easier to change a room reservation when made directly with them.(Provided: Western Hotel)

Ms Davenport said direct bookings also made it easier for people to make cancellations or changes.

“We find that it can be quite time consuming and difficult to make changes to [online agency] reservations. Direct bookings would be fantastic,” she said.

“We love telling people all about the different things to do in the area.”

Shorter journeys on maps

Despite many other travel options, Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind still expects people to prioritize local holidays and smaller trips.

“I think we will continue to focus on domestic destinations, shorter trips and trips that allow you to be a bit separated from the crowd,” Mr. Gschwind said.

“There are certainly opportunities for regional destinations in Queensland.”

Daniel Gschwind stands at Cairns Lagoon with sculptures in the background.
Daniel Gschwind expects people to continue vacationing locally in 2022.(ABC News: Brendan Mounter)

He said tour operators were also eagerly awaiting the return of international tourists to Australia.

Ms Davenport is simply asking travelers for a little patience and understanding, as staff continue to abuse cops over mask and vaccine mandates.

“It’s just terrible that people keep doing this… when they know it’s completely out of our control,” she said.

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