NSW school holidays places to go: Sydneysiders opt for bargain staycations as regions book out

It's nearly the school holidays but with borders closed and the state's regions filling up, some Sydney families are preparing for a holiday close to home.

The latest tourism data shows that, while regional NSW experienced a strong rebound in June tourism numbers, overnight visitors to Sydney slumped.

This weekend Elanora Heights resident Amalie Knox is taking a staycation with her husband Daniel, two-year-old son Darcy and cairn terrier Scout at Pier One hotel in Sydney Harbour.

"Normally we'd often go away on a holiday with the extended family somewhere like Fiji or Bali," Mrs Knox said.

While several friends have upcoming travel plans further afield in regional NSW, Mrs Knox said she is "super excited" to stay in the city because living on the Northern Beaches means she doesn't visit the CBD very often.

"Actually it's a lot easier with young kids to jump in the car for an hour or so, and use that time to rest and relax," she said. "It's nice to feel like you could be anywhere in the world in this part of Sydney."

One thing that appealed about Pier One was the fact it caters for her dog Scout.

"For a lot of people their dogs are a part of their families - we'd rather not leave her behind. For a few nights in the city it's great to be able to bring her along," she said.

As for the family's weekend agenda, they plan to amble around The Rocks, visit the Botanic Gardens and maybe take a ferry over to Luna Park.


The most recent National Visitor Survey statistics from Tourism Research Australia show the number of nights visitors stayed in Sydney declined from 747,000 in May to 726,000 in June.

This was despite restrictions easing before the second wave of COVID-19 gripped Victoria. Meanwhile the number of nights visitors spent in regional NSW climbed from 2.7 million to 4.8 million.

Pier One's marketing director Catherine McLaughlin said the hotel had coped better than some local competitors because of its location and proximity to key Sydney landmarks.

Ms McLaughlin said there were discounted deals available after the hotel wiped 35 per cent off the price of some room packages in an effort to attract guests.

"Now with the international market gone it's about looking at our domestic locals and making sure we're giving them a reason to holiday at home in Sydney," she said.

NSW Tourism and Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres said "spring is a fantastic time to be in Sydney" and urged Sydneysiders to make the most of the city during the school holidays.

"Every hotel stay, every meal, every interaction with a local business makes a difference. We are Sydney's tourists right now [so] let's show our support for these operators by visiting, spending and sharing on social media," he said.

"Travelling with loved ones always creates special memories, so why wouldn't you want to take your pet on holiday in Sydney this spring?" he said.

See also: Sydney Harbour Pier One hotel's $15 million makeover

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