Visitors to Dubbo are snapping up rooms as the city experiences a months-long trend as a "magnet" for travellers, a veteran of the accommodation industry says.
Country Apartments owner Terry Clark said with COVID-19 closing borders, Dubbo was feeling the benefits of a surge in interest in regional NSW, and had the major attractions to "value-add" to people's trips.
He said his business was solidly booked this week, even though school holidays had finished, and expected other moteliers were seeing similar occupancy levels.
With 35 years in the industry at Dubbo, Mr Clark viewed it as something of a renaissance in demand.
"...We have seen this many, many times before over the years, Dubbo was so popular with the zoo... but compared with the past 10 years, this is quite exceptional now, that we are booking out right through the week, virtually," he said.
COVID-19 travel restrictions brought tough times for the industry from April to June and the business had "slowed right down".
But from July 1, with those rules easing, bookings "just exploded", Mr Clark said.
"We got so many forward bookings for holidaymakers, visitors over that period, and then it didn't really slow down much between that holiday and this latest holiday," he said.
"So we've been getting people who have been taking advantage of travelling in central NSW, and what has been absolutely amazing is the number of people who have been doing a circuit.
"They've been coming to Dubbo either before or after they've visited further out, like Lightning Ridge, Bourke, those sort of places, or just doing smaller circuits, Coonabarabran, Cowra, Parkes.
"And people are saying to us that they just wanted to get out."
Mr Clark said it was a mixture of demographics booking and staying.
"Dubbo is like a magnet to people who think 'where will we go', because we've got the major attractions out here, we can value-add to their trip, it's tremendous."
Strong demand was also seen at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which last week announced it had 100 per cent occupancy for its accommodation during the school holidays and welcomed more than 25,000 visitors through the gates during the two-week period.
The Old Dubbo Gaol also experienced one of its busiest school holiday periods to date, with more than 8200 people walking through the gates, more than double the visitation of the same period last year, Dubbo Regional Council reported.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Visitor Experience and cafe welcomed more than 6000 guests in the two-week holiday period, which pleased Mr Clark, who is a RFDS South Eastern board member.
"The RFDS is my baby, it was something I dreamed of for many years, and being on the board of directors, I was able to encourage them to go ahead with the development and it's been just paying off beautifully to us," he said.
"...They've had huge numbers out there, and they're being rewarded by getting magnificent reviews."
Country Apartments was nominated in TripAdvisor's top 25 properties in Australia, for the fourth year running and achieving its best result yet, Mr Clark said.
"We're number six in Australia for families, and we're number 12 in the South Pacific. So we're very proud of the fact our team at Country Apartments maintains the standard high enough to have guests continually review us and put us in that level," he said.