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Australia’s Most Popular Xmas Holiday Destinations Revealed

Xmas travel hotspots for Aussies

If you think our major cities become ghost towns over the Christmas holidays as Aussies escape for the coast, think again.

Newly compiled travel data suggests nearly half of Aussies will be spending their Christmas holidays in our metropolitan cities, with Sydney and Melbourne topping the list of destinations.

The Saturday after school holidays is also the busiest day for travel.

Hotel price comparison platform HotelsCombined predicts this year’s Christmas holiday travel trends based on data from accommodation bookings from December 19, 2015 to January 18, 2016.

Metropolitan travel destinations

The site predicts that this Christmas 47 per cent of domestic accommodation bookings will be in our seven major cities (in each state).

Sydney Market is a popular Xmas hotspot

Sydney and Melbourne are the most popular destinations, accounting for 29 per cent of bookings over the Christmas period.

“The popularity of these destinations indicate people likely travel to see their families over Christmas, rather than booking a getaway,” says Chris Rivett, Head of Marketing Australia and New Zealand at HotelsCombined.

Holiday hot spots

Interestingly, popular beachside spots Noosa Heads and Bryon Bay don’t make the top 10 list of holiday hotspots across regional areas.

Outside of our metropolitan cities, the Gold Coast was the number one travel spot, followed by Cairns, Coffs Harbour and then Wollongong.

A few surprises on the Xmas hotspot list

Busiest travel days

If you think you’ll miss the airport crowds and traffic congestion by escaping for the holidays just before New Year’s Day, this won’t be the case. HotelsCombined reveals post-Christmas travel is a busier time than pre-Christmas travel, with 31 December showing the highest rate of accommodation check-ins, followed by the first day of schools holidays (17 December this year).

The quietest day to travel in the holiday period will be the first Monday of the school holidays – December 19.

Top international travel destinations

While HotelsCombined’s bookings data reveals most Aussies travel domestically, 31 per cent of bookings over the Christmas holidays are for overseas destinations.

Bali is the most popular holiday spot during this time, followed by the USA, New Zealand and then Thailand.

New Zealand is a Xmas hotspot

Top 10 destinations over the Christmas/New Year period – Metropolitan areas

Ranking Metropolitan area
1 Sydney
2 Melbourne
3 Brisbane
4 Perth
5 Adelaide
6 Canberra
7 Hobart
8 Darwin

Top 10 destinations – Regional areas

Ranking Regional area
1 Gold Coast
2 Cairns
3 Coffs Harbour
4 Wollongong
5 Port Macquarie
6 Newcastle
7 Launceston
8 Albury
9 Geelong
10 Hervey Bay

Top 10 destinations – International bookings by Australians

Ranking International destination
1 Indonesia
2 United States
3 New Zealand
4 Thailand
5 Japan
6 Singapore
7 Philippines
8 Malaysia
9 United Kingdom
10 Vietnam

Busiest days to check-in to accommodation

Ranking Day of check-in
1 31 December
2 26 December
3 27 December
4 28 December
5 30 December
6 2 January
7 19 December
8 29 December
9 8 January
10 16 January


Written by James Graham

With over 20 years as a journalist and TV producer, The Carousel Editor James Graham has a wealth of experience covering the full media spectrum.

James has a formidable reputation as a talented media veteran and worked as a reporter, script writer and as the producer of the TV documentary The Road To Athens.

He has worked across newspapers, radio and the biggest flagship magazine brands in Australia and New Zealand. Previously, James was the News Director at Woman's Day and New Idea.

Whether filing celebrity exclusives, or some of the biggest real-life splashes of recent years, James’ career has always been at the frontline of mainstream media.

When not in the Ed’s chair, you’ll find him at Royal Randwick, his beloved Long Reef Golf Club on the Northern Beaches – or visiting his mum in his native New Zealand.

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