The Whitsunday Writers Festival will take place on Daydream Island, Whitsundays
The Whitsunday Writers Festival will take place on Daydream Island, Whitsundays

Hotel prices dive in 2011

WHILE the Australian dollar rose against the world's major currencies in 2011, the cost of hotel rooms in many overseas cities fell. As a result, Australian travellers were laughing all the way to the airport, en route to traditionally expensive European cities, Asian hotspots and the US.

According to the latest Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI), hotel prices in more than half of the countries surveyed were cheaper for Australian travellers in 2011, compared to 2010, despite the global average price of a hotel room rising four per cent. Of the 51 countries analysed, there were price falls in 30. 

In Europe, economic woes across the region meant Australian travellers had a unique opportunity to visit some of the world's most famous holiday spots. Hotel prices dipped in countries like Portugal (-10 per cent), Germany (-7 per cent), Belgium (-7 per cent), Finland (-6 per cent) and even France (-5 per cent), usually an expensive destination for Australian travellers.

European cities where prices fell included: Berlin, down 12 per cent to $A129; Madrid, down nine per cent to $A141; Lisbon, down six per cent to $A132; Rome, down four per cent to $A205; and Paris, down four per cent to $A220.

Despite some European cities being more attractive than ever, a number of destinations remained unaffected thanks to robust economies. For instance, hotel prices in Sweden rose 10 per cent to $A201, Denmark rose nine per cent to $A195 and Switzerland rose six per cent to $A227.

Taormina, Sicily, bucked the Eurozone trend to post an increase of six per cent to average $A268 per night, launching it to the top of the list of most expensive destinations, equal only with New York. Italy's Florence also increased 10 per cent to $A185 and Sorrento increased eight per cent to $A196.

Hotels. com vice president and managing director Asia Pacific, Johan Svanstrom said: "On the whole, Australians are in a great position to enjoy international travel again this year, especially to Europe, where they haven't seen such favourable exchange rates in decades. Hotel rates in the region are still far below 2006 levels, meaning travellers can find outstanding value for money."

It was a mixed result for the US, a favourite with Australian travellers taking advantage of the strong dollar. Prices in Boston and Washington DC dropped six per cent to $A218 and $A197 respectively, while Chicago and Orlando fell four per cent to $A170 and $A111 respectively.

However, some popular tourist and business hubs became more expensive in 2011. Prices in San Francisco rose 10 per cent to $A190, Anaheim was up eight per cent to $A133 and Los Angeles rose five per cent to $A176. Miami, Florida, was also up five per cent to $A188. New York remained the most expensive destination at $A268, despite a six per cent fall.

Overall, hotel prices in Asia dropped per cent, and sought-after holiday destinations, such as Thailand, Bali and Vietnam, posted double-digit falls, making Asia a winner for travellers looking for value for money. In Thailand, prices in Koh Samui and Phuket fell 15 per cent and 8 per cent to $A157 and $A125 respectively. In Vietnam, prices fell in Ho Chi Minh City by eight per cent to $A87 and, in Hanoi, prices fell five per cent to $A83.

At the other end of the scale, hotel room rates increased in Hong Kong seven per cent to $A187. Prices in Singapore also increased, up four per cent to $A217. These increases were due to healthy corporate demand and their attractiveness as stop-over cities en route to Europe.

Top five price falls by city

(per cent price falls by city in 2011 compared with 2010 in AUD)

City

2011

2010

% change

New Delhi

115

157

-27%

Hiroshima

106

140

-24%

Shanghai

113

149

-24%

Kyoto

135

166

-19%

Johannesburg

144

169

-15%

Top five price rises by city

(per cent price rises by city in 2011 compared with 2010 in AUD)

City

2011

2010

% change

Christchurch

118

97

22%

Brisbane

174

148

18%

Perth

184

157

17%

Wellington

125

107

17%

Geneva

261

227

15%

Focus on Australia

Australia's stable economy, coupled with steady corporate and leisure demand saw hotel room rates rise nine per cent year-on-year, averaging $166 per night. Three quarters of the domestic destinations surveyed experienced price increases.

However, there was still value to be found in a number of cities and popular holiday destinations throughout Australia, which were on par or cheaper than hotel prices in popular overseas destinations.

Perth knocked Sydney off its perch as being the most expensive capital city, rising 17 per cent to $184. Brisbane wasn't too far behind Sydney, rising 18 per cent to $174. Canberra performed consistently in 2011 with hotel prices dropping two per cent to $184.

Cairns topped the list as the most affordable domestic holiday destination in 2011 at $119 per night, while The Whitsundays, one of Australia's most exotic holiday destinations, averaged $284 per night.

Top five cheapest Australian destinationsin 2011 compared with 2010 (in AUD):

City

2011

2010

% change

Cairns

119

118

0%

Alice Springs

129

139

-7%

Launceston

131

156

-16%

Townsville

140

126

11%

Adelaide

147

142

4%

Top five most expensive Australian destinationsin 2011 compared with 2010 (in AUD):

City

2011

2010

% change

Whitsunday Islands

284

271

5%

Byron Bay

192

192

0%

Sunshine Coast

187

173

8%

Hunter Valley

185

171

8%

Perth

184

157

17%

Mr Svanstrom said that despite overseas travel being more affordable than ever, Australians still love exploring their own backyard.

"Despite domestic hotel prices rising last year in many popular holiday spots, there were still plenty of affordable travel options. There are always great deals on accommodation so it's a matter of keeping an eye out and being flexible with travel dates to get the best deal."

>> Read more travel stories.



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