CANCEL CHRISTMAS PRESENCE
Australians are packing their bags for a Christmas abroad, with December departures almost doubling for destinations including Africa and the Middle East. New figures from Helloworld show December trips booked to the Middle East are up 60 per cent on last year, holidays to Africa have jumped 43.3 per cent, and the Americas are up by one third compared to the same time last year.
Helloworld Travel head of air trading Chris Malina says travel for Christmas is more popular than ever, with holidaygoers taking advantage of cheap flights and getaway deals.
“People also really want to do something different,” Chris says. “There is that ‘fear of missing out’ mentality – they may have done the whole Australia thing and think why not get away for Christmas – you also capitalise on public holidays and have to take minimal days of annual leave.”
He says the US and Europe are still popular choices, with people craving a white Christmas. “Getting away from the summer for a white Christmas to places like New York is appealing, and it’s big in ski season as well. Also places like South Africa, where the weather is great and it’s a similar climate to Australia. Japan is always a hot destination – Tokyo numbers are really strong too.”
Intrepid Travel has almost doubled its family trips departing over the Christmas period, with 40 Christmas holidays leaving after December 20, up from 16 last year and just four in 2016. In a real break from tradition, holidaymakers are choosing the steamy destinations of India, Cambodia and Central America, as well as a white Christmas. Vietnam is the “it” destination so far.
“There are so many reasons to escape the Christmas madness and join an overseas adventure instead,” Intrepid Group CEO James Thornton says. For families, it means the kids will experience truly amazing things like learning to cook with exotic ingredients, chatting to locals, sleeping on a train in bunk beds, and practising how to say hello and thank you in other languages ... experiences far more enriching than giving toys and clothes at Christmas.
“For solo travellers, having the opportunity to break from tradition and travel with other like-minded people can leave them feeling recharged for the New Year.”
New research from finder.com.au also shows 46 per cent of Aussies plan to take a holiday this December or January, and many have already booked their stay. Of those going away, 28 per cent have booked, with 2.5 million holidaymakers having booked their holiday by July – six months in advance.
Sydney mother of three Monica Huxley said she loved taking time away with her young family at the end of the year – the perfect time to unwind and reconnect after a busy festive season.
“Normally we go up to Queensland, but this year we are taking a bit longer and going overseas to Hawaii and New York – we just can’t wait,” she says. “By December the kids are tired after a big year of school and my husband and I are ready to escape Sydney – so it’s something we all look forward to.”
Carnival Cruise Lines has seen an increase in families enjoying a welcome alternative.
“Christmas is so much fun; we have snow falling in the atrium, Santa and a shipload of festive activities,” Carnival vice-president Jennifer Vandekreeke says.
“But the best part is mums and dads can spend time with their kids without having to lift a finger in the cooking or cleaning department.”