DEMAND for accommodation in Newcastle on the weekend of the city’s first ever Supercars race has sky-rocketed, with many hotels already completely booked out and others boosting prices by 460 per cent to cash in on the rush for spots.
The state government and Newcastle City Council have been keen to spruik the economic benefits of the race since it was announced last year, and the city’s hotel owners are already seeing the evidence.
A number of hotels in the city, including the Crowne Plaza and the Quest Apartments are already completely booked out for the weekend of the race in November.
Daniel Burton, the owner of Quest on Hunter Street, said he had been completely booked out since two days after the event was announced, with a number of Supercar teams using the apartments as their headquarters during the event.
“I’m happy for the town, it’s a massive coup, and it’s not only going to bring in revenue but also huge opportunities for the whole town,” he said.
Mr Burton said he’d anticipated some of the demand, and had taken bookings over the weekend off his website as soon as the dates were announced.
“The demand would have melted the website down,” he said.
“We had a lot of bigger groups approach us, which gave us plenty of time to prepare, it’s certainly going to be a hectic period … it’s an exciting time for the town.”
And while other hotels are still taking bookings, the scarcity of vacancies is pushing prices sky high.
At the Novotel on Newcastle Beach, a three-night booking in a king bedroom with harbour views will set punters back $589 in February. On the weekend of the Supercars race in November it’s $3297 – a 460 per cent markup.
It’s not just the city’s hotels raking in the cash either. A survey of East End Airbnb listings show prices currently as high as $6000 for the weekend of the race within the so-called “purple zone” surrounding the track route.
The priciest listing for a February weekend in the East End is currently only $1172.
Debera Mackenzie, the general manager of Noah’s on the Beach, said her hotel was not yet fully booked, but that she was in “negotiations” with a number of large groups in the lead up to the event.
Situated right on Newcastle Beach, Noah’s is directly on the race course, and is advertising its “trackside accommodation” overlooking “turns four, five and six of what is sure to become one of the best street tracks on the supercars calendar”.
Ms Mackenzie said the hotel had increased its rates during the weekend, but pointed out that the only bookings the hotel would receive that weekend would likely be from Supercars fans.
“You would only stay in the hotel if you were here for the race because we’re right on the track,” she said.
“So we don’t fully know what they impact is going to be yet.”
Tourism minister Adam Marshall has said that the Newcastle 500 Supercars race is expected to inject $57 million into the city’s economy and attract more than 81,000 spectators.
“Newcastle is a fantastic city and it’s my commitment as a country-based minister to see it grow and firm up its position as a drawcard for local and international visitors alike,” he said.
The race will take place both during and after a significant construction phase in the city.
On Friday the Newcastle Herald revealed that Hunter Street could be closed block by block for up to 14 weeks at a time as the Newcastle light rail is installed in a construction program expected to run for almost two years.
The Herald previously reported that large parts of the city will be designated as a “construction zone” in the lead up to the race as works to prepare the road network take place.