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Airlie Records Another Huge School Holiday Boom

By Mark Beale

Tourism operators around the region have declared these school holidays as some of the best yet as hotels hit full occupancy and tour operators reported surging demand.

At Hotel Group managing director Jeff Aquilina said 99% of Airlie Beach properties were booked out on Saturday.

“It was a long weekend, it was the end of school holidays for Queensland and a double win for Airlie Beach,” he said.

“It was great weather, it’s a great destination and with a very high demand. It’s really good to see the town so busy.”

Mr Aquilina, said it was a record period for the hotel group, with occupancy up 5% on previous years.

“It’s booking out a lot sooner that previous years. It’s good for business because you can plan better when things are coming early,” he said.

“Certainly it’s our busiest season from now until Christmas and our future bookings look stronger than usual.”

Mr Aquilina said he thought an increase in destination marketing and ease of air travel were behind the numbers boost.

“I think the destination obviously had a lot of marketing in recent years and the awareness is quite high,” he said.

“Certainly also the direct air access from Melbourne with Jetstar to Proserpine. We’ve had a year of that now, this time last year the flight was fairly new. That flight has helped.”

Cruise Whitsundays CEO Nick Hortle said they were doing double trips to the reef.

“The first week being Queensland school holidays showed steady bookings, but it was week two that increased with the rest of Australia being on school holidays. It allowed us to increase capacity and schedule double boat days for the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said the feedback from tourism operators had been very positive.

“Our numbers are strong from our traditional markets across the state and obviously also interstate. Across the board it’s looking very good,” he said.

“I know a lot of tourism operators were running at full occupancy. Traditionally it is a good time for us.”

Mr Turner said they had been performing particularly well in the domestic market.

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