Main Beach, Byron Bay.
Main Beach, Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg

Pricey hotel claims rejected

FIGURES released this week rating Byron Bay as having the most expensive hotel rooms in New South Wales have been queried by Byron United president Paul Waters.

"We hardly have any hotel rooms; it's mainly apartments," Mr Waters said yesterday.

"It sounds like a bit of a beat-up."

The hotel price index, which includes motels and serviced apartments, listed the average price of a hotel room at Byron Bay in 2011 as $192 a night.

The index is based on actual prices paid for hotel rooms (rather than advertised rates) across 142,000 properties worldwide.

In Sydney the average price was $181 (up 8%).

Gold Coast had the biggest increase of Australian destinations, up 19% year-on-year to $161, while the Whitsundays was rated the costliest place to stay in Australia at $284 a night, up 5% on the previous year.

"You need to look at it on balance," Mr Waters said.

"Some luxury apartments are expensive but you can fit five, six or seven people in them, not just two or three like a hotel room.

"We have a few motels and a lot of backpackers but the majority of accommodation here is apartments."

Mr Waters said early 2011 had been tough for tourism at Byron with summer finishing early because of all the rain, then a long cold winter with no Splendour In The Grass.

"It was tough everywhere and we were no exception," he said.

"But from September onwards things improved.

"We've done some heavy marketing in our key south-east Queensland market with the Byron Naturally campaign.

"Accommodation can be in short supply at what I call the peak peak times, like Christmas and Easter.

"We have off-peak for a few winter months, then the rest of the year is peak season."

Nationally, hotel prices increased an average of 9% to $166 a night, the third-highest increase worldwide behind New Zealand (up 11% to $122) and Sweden (up 10% to $201).

The biggest decrease in prices was in Egypt (down 21% to $126) following the revolution in January 2011.

The average cost of hotel rooms also fell in Japan (down 14% to $139), India (down 12% to $121) and the Philippines (down 12% to $99).



OTHER NSW destinations in the Hotel Price Index included Hunter Valley $185 (up 8%), Newcastle $183 (up 7%), the Blue Mountains $174 (down 8%) and Wollongong $174 (up 3%). In Canberra the average price of a hotel room was $184 a night (down 2%).

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