James Wilkinson-Ed
James Wilkinson

Following a tumultuous, uncertain and challenging 2009, it looks like the tide may finally have turned for the hotel industry. Virtually every hotelier and tourism leader I’ve spoken to across the world over the last six weeks is optimistic about 2010 – and that’s come from forecasting on the back of solid bookings already in place for the next calendar year.

From the Margaret River to New York, Wellington to Nadi and Hong Kong to Mexico, leading hotels, airlines and tourist boards are predicting a strong 2010, particularly from the high-end luxury segment

While outlooks are generally reserved for our annual Industry Leaders Forum edition each February, our December 2009 issue has turned into an outlook for 2010, thanks to the positivity shining through each of our major features.

A huge boost for the inbound travel market has come from United Airlines. Speaking to HM in late November, United’s head of Australian operations, Alison Espley, said she is optimistic about the next twelve months, from both an inbound and outbound perspective.

Similarly, Quay West Resort Bunker Bay, Pullman Cairns, Toga Hospitality, IHG and Accor – all of whom were also interviewed for this issue – are also positive on what 2010 will bring for the Australian industry, thanks to a late 2009 rebound across all market segments, including the high-yielding MICE segment.

During a visit to New York in early November, I had the opportunity to stay at five of the city’s W Hotels. When I spoke to several of the General Managers, they said bookings were up and many were running in the 80% bracket for occupancy right through until February.

New Zealand and Fiji are also experiencing a lift in business. Fiji has seen full flights from Australia on a regular basis and that is expected to continue well into 2010, as the country markets its affordability to the internationally-focused Aussie traveller. In New Zealand, hotels from Dunedin to Auckland are reporting stronger numbers compared to the corresponding period in 2008 and many remain confident of a strong start to the next calendar year. This is quite a different picture compared to early 2009, when optimism was at a 10-year low and hoteliers were restricted to only forecasting for several months in advance.

I trust you will find the above interviews informative and enjoy the rest of this December edition, which also includes key features on bedding and audio-visual technology. Yours in hospitality,

James Wilkinson
Managing Editor