WALL-TO-WALL bookings at south-west motels and caravan parks this weekend have left few rooms at the inn and businesses anticipating more demand today and tomorrow.
More than 90 per cent of Warrnambool accommodation providers will have the ‘no vacancy’ sign illuminated tonight and only a few beds are expected to be available tomorrow night.
Data collated by The Standard shows few south-west localities had motels and caravan parks with spare spots available.
Tourist and fishing hotspots such as Port Fairy and Portland have hardly any vacancies this weekend, although in Hamilton there are still many rooms available over the next fortnight.
Olde Maritime Motor Inn owner Raj Patel said his Warrnambool motel had received strong bookings in the weeks leading up to Christmas, including many international visitors.
“I’ve been in the hotel industry for 23 years and this is the first time we’ve had a full house for a long number of days in a row,” Mr Patel said. “Boxing Day used to be the day that people would head down from Melbourne but we’ve found that people are booking earlier and heading here earlier.
“Some people start their summer holidays here on December 20 or 21. The next few weeks are going to be fantastic for business.”
Ibis Styles Warrnambool Central Court owner Ann Chapman said bookings for the 2014-15 summer were already ahead of last year.
“Summer is shaping up to be much better than last year, above expectations,” Ms Chapman said.
“The good news is that more people are heading along the Great Ocean Road but the downside is that holidaymakers are far more price-conscious and are likely to stay two or three days rather than six or seven.”
Thousands of visitors poured into the region yesterday with Warrnambool’s estimated population expected to grow by 15,000, with Port Fairy also swelling to quadruple its usual resident numbers.
Warrnambool Holiday Park owner-operator Steve Moore said bookings had been strong and expected numbers to grow, depending on weather conditions.
“We’ve been lucky this year that Christmas and Boxing Day lead into a weekend, so people from Geelong and Melbourne come down here for a short break,” he said.
Surprisingly, many rooms are still available for New Year’s Eve across the region with accommodation providers listing numerous rooms and suites as of yesterday afternoon.
Warrnambool City Council tourism manager Peter Abbott said that this weekend and the following fortnight were likely to be the busiest period of the season. “A lot of Melbourne and international visitors still want the traditional Boxing Day to New Year’s experience down at the beach,” he said. “That’s great for seaside places but the further inland you go like Hamilton and Horsham, the less bookings there are.”
Surfside and Shipwreck Bay Holiday Park manager Paul McNamara said 350 sites filled at the park yesterday with a further 200 scheduled for the coming days.
“We’re basically fully booked for the first couple of weeks. There’s the odd little spot here and there that will be for overnighters,” he said.