Ingenia snags holiday bookings surge as lockdowns lift

Ingenia is counting on a strong summer holiday season, with year-on-year revenue holdings per park up 26 per cent indicating a massive pent-up demand for travel from customers wanting to stretch their legs after lockdowns in NSW and Victoria.

The owner and operator of holiday parks as well as affordable housing communities said on Thursday revenue holdings per park – a measure of bookings, deposits paid and holidays paid – through to the end of June 2022 were up strongly on last year.

“It’s the best leading indicator we have of travel intentions,” Ingenia chief executive Simon Owen told The Australian Financial Review after the company’s annual general meeting.

“When you look at holdings today compared with the same period a year ago, we’re streets ahead.”

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Ingenia’s caravan and holiday cabin business, which makes up about one-third of its total revenue, is still recovering. Pandemic restrictions that closed the company’s holiday parks at the end of June have only recently lifted, cutting about $10 million from revenue for the year to date.

In August, even though it reported a record number of home settlements in its residential business, the uncertainty hanging over tourism parks prevented the company from issuing earnings guidance.

It only remedied that earlier this month, when expectations of a rebounding tourism business prompted it to forecast EBIT earnings growth of 20-25 per cent and underlying growth in earnings per share of 3-6 per cent on last year.

Having seen after previous lockdowns how quickly the holiday business picked up, the company was confident that its holidays business – now comprising a portfolio of 40 holiday communities across Queensland, NSW and Victoria – was bouncing back, Mr Owen said.

“People are wanting to travel. Even now nearly every one of our holiday parks is booked out every weekend,” he said.

“November is normally a quieter month and it picks up in December. Even now, people are pulling young kids out of school, saying ‘We’re taking a break’. Grey nomads are on the road.”

Shareholders passed all four resolutions put to them at Thursday’s AGM, with 99 per cent-plus votes for the remuneration report and the granting of remuneration, short-term and long-term incentive plans to Mr Owen.

The shares closed down 9¢, or 1.4 per cent, at $6.20.

Separately this week, Ingenia said it had acquired BIG4 Beacon Resort – taking up 3.2 hectares in Queenscliff on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula– in an off-market $37 million deal.

The asset, with a combination of short-term holiday villas and sites and long-term annual cabins, was one of a handful of unidentified acquisitions Ingenia said was under contract when it announced a $552 million acquisition pipeline and capital raising earlier this month.

Ingenia purchased the asset from long-term owner and operator Lorraine Golightly in cash and expected to generate a stabilised yield of about 7 per cent from the park that currently has 23 annual cabins, 31 caravan and camping sites and 69 holiday villas.

The park also had capacity to generate further revenue by adding additional annual sites and cabins, Ingenia said.

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