Holiday homes dominate Melbourne's coastal resorts. In the 19th century holiday homes were a sign of status and conspicuous consumption. Only the wealthy could afford to maintain a second household at such fashionable resorts as Sorrento and Queenscliff. However, in the early 20th century the development of railways allowed mass ownership of cheap holiday shacks and houses, particularly between Sandringham and Frankston. After World War II the increased pressure of urban development, greater motor car ownership and interest in surfing pushed holiday homes further out. Currently, the holiday home belt is situated between 80 and 150 km of the city centre. In the southern section of the Mornington Peninsula, and the Surf and Bass coasts, holiday homes are by far the main source of accommodation, accounting for approximately 50% of visitor nights. Holiday homes have also been clustered in some inland areas, such as the Dandenong Ranges, Macedon Ranges and the goldfields.
Holiday homes are generally overlooked in considerations of tourism, deemed as non-commercial, small-scale and outside the industry. However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated holiday homes as contributing 6% of the Gross Domestic Product generated by tourism. In the small coastal resorts dependent on Melbourne, this economic impact is much higher, particularly on retailing and services. In contrast, the environmental impact of holiday homes has been an area of concern since the 1920s. Major problems include vegetation clearance, waste disposal and wildlife reduction. Unlike other countries, there appear to be few difficulties of social displacement of agricultural communities, though escalating prices may once again be making holiday home ownership only achievable by those with high incomes.