It feels like just yesterday we were reading about COVID-19 shaking up and ultimately disrupting Airbnb bookings. Turns out, people are now itching for travel restrictions to ease – as newly-released data shows a massive surge in domestic tourism within Australia. In case you’re planning a holiday for yourself, it might be time to start booking in case all the good properties get snatched up.
But before we delve into Airbnb’s cleaning policies — and other rules — that’ll ease some of your travel concerns, here’s some insight into where Aussies are booking properties.
Airbnb’s released new data outlining a resurgence in reservations across Australia, and more specifically in regional areas. Although it’s still early days, the signs are looking promising. This comes on the back of same-state travel being given the green light in some part of the country. For instance, both Victoria and NSW are readying up for intrastate travel from June 1.
Where are Aussies booking Airbnbs?
For future travel in just one seven-day period alone (17-23 May):
- Same-state bookings in New South Wales jumped last week following the announcement of easing travel restrictions, up 488% month-on-month and 15% compared with the same week in 2019*.
- Australia-wide bookings in NSW are also nearing pre-COVID-19 rates, recovering to almost 90% of bookings in the same week last year**.
- Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory have seen bookings increase by 66%, 77% and 93% respectively, compared with the same week last year*.
- Victorians have also been busy booking trips for the back half of the year. Bookings in the state are expected to experience a surge similar to that in other states, given the month-on-month increase of 135% during this period*.
- Search data suggests that Queensland and Tasmania are also set to record a strong resurgence in bookings once restrictions ease in line with local conditions.
*Data is for same-state domestic bookings.
**Data is for Australia-wide bookings in NSW.
Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia, told Lifehacker Australia they’re definitely seeing a strong resurgence in people planning trips for later in the year — and into next year — and actively searching for ideal getaway spots for when they’re able to take that first trip.
“These searches are very encouraging early signs of domestic travel getting ready to bounce back and make a big contribution to economic recovery,” she said in an email.
“We are keen to work with the government to see how Airbnb can best play a role in helping communities recover — especially in the regions.”
Wheeldon acknowledged this has been an extremely challenging time for everyone across the tourism industry and they were keen to help local tourism operators and small businesses get back on their feet.
“We know that’s also true for guests, who genuinely want to do their part to support communities big and small who have had a tough time recently,” she said.
“We know that most Aussies will have a newfound love of our sunburnt country and a powerful desire to explore our own backyard like never before. People are looking for stays that are close to home, familiar and safe, and make for affordable getaways.”
Airbnb puts in place an ‘Enhanced Cleaning Initiative’ to ease some of your concerns
One of the big concerns for travellers post-COVID is cleanliness of accommodation. Due to this, Airbnb appears to be taking big steps towards ensuring the health of visitors to its properties.
It’s been working on a new ‘Cleaning Protocol’ for hosts under its ‘Enhanced Cleaning Initiative’ and with the guidance from former US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy. Other leading experts in hospitality and medical hygiene have also been involved in the process.
You can read the full guidelines here but essentially, the website states “listings enrolled in the Cleaning Protocol will be available for stays immediately after the enhanced cleaning is performed.
“If hosts are unable to commit to our Cleaning Protocol, they can alternatively opt into a new feature called Booking Buffer, to create a vacancy period between stays.”
In short, the Book Buffer makes sure hosts keep their home empty for a set period between stays. The only activity allowed during this time is cleaning. Reservations will be blocked during this time, which is currently 72 hours.
Airbnb ANZ’s Senior Communications Manager, Corporate and Policy, Jason Tin, reiterated to Lifehacker Australia they’ve directly communicated with Aussies on multiple occasions to remind them that they must follow guidance from local authorities, and that failing to do so in certain states can result in hefty fines and even imprisonment.
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