South Australians dreaming of a white Christmas, but unable to get to the northern hemisphere this year, are instead heading for the white sandy beaches in droves.

Key points:There are restrictions on interstate and international travel because of the coronavirus pandemicAdelaide residents are instead booking beach holidays locallyCBD hotels are still suffering from high vacancy rates

Many holiday homes are already booked out over the Christmas period.

Mark Forde from Harcourts South Coast leases holiday homes along the Fleurieu Peninsula and said the real estate business had been inundated with booking enquires like never before.

“It’s actually been crazy, we have never experienced anything like it,” he said.

“The demand is off the charts — we have had to employ more people to support our holiday team; the phones are just running hot 24/7.”

Family friends Tommy Smith, Shane O’Niell, Audrey Rangel and Maria Paul holiday at a caravan park just five minutes from their own homes in Adelaide.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

Caravan parks across the state have also recorded a surge in bookings over the October school holidays, while various accommodation options are quickly filling up for summer.

Tourist Maria Paul is one of many South Australians choosing to stay local this year.

She spent the recent school holidays with her family and friends just five minutes down the road at West Beach Parks.

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Rather than going interstate this summer, she said she would stay in her home state.

“Because of COVID, I guess there are travel restrictions, and we don’t want to take chances booking tickets and wait to get a refund or not,” Ms Paul said.

“But there is plenty to explore in South Australia, so we will just stay here and explore.”

Karen Kennewell and daughter Sarah stayed in West Beach, 30 minutes from their home in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)A local tourism bounce-back

The South Australian Tourism Commission says it is the first signs of a bounce-back for the state’s tourism sector, which has taken significant knocks from the triple-blow of drought, bushfires and COVID-19.

A beach shack in Wallaroo, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.(Flickr: Gary Sauer-Thompson)

Chief executive Rodney Harrex said it was encouraging to see so many South Australians holidaying locally.

“If you are thinking of getting out over the summer, you need to book now — we don’t want South Australians to be disappointed,” he said.

“We have seen them out there supporting regional communities already; now is the time to book.”

Read more about coronavirus: South Australia has some of the best beaches in the country.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)City hotels continue to suffer

In Adelaide’s CBD, it is a very different story.

With international borders shut and very little corporate travel, occupancy rates in city hotels are still dramatically down.

Mr Harrex said the occupancy rate in CBD hotels was around 30 to 35 per cent and some of that was made up of interstate and overseas arrivals carrying out their 14-day quarantine.

The State Government is launching travel discount vouchers on October 15 in the hope of encouraging more South Australians to holiday locally.

“This is designed to get people to come in, explore the Central Market, do a tour around the city, explore what Adelaide has to offer.” Mr Harrex said.

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