BY JAMES WILKINSON
Strong occupancy levels, positive investment forecasts and huge demand from emerging markets have left the hotel industry confident of a strong 2011, following the first day of the 11th annual Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Hotel Industry Conference (ANZPHIC) at Hilton Sydney this week (July 18).
“As the improvement in revenues and profits continues to gain momentum in response to limited new room supply and the strength of corporate demand in particular, confidence is back and the industry is actively searching for the next wave of opportunity,” said Horwath HTL joint Managing Director and ANZPHIC 2011 conference chair, John Smith.
The release of the latest STR Global statistics for the six months to June 2011 showed Sydney flat, Perth hot and the Gold Coast and Far North Queensland struggling to bounce back from natural disasters and a high Australian dollar.
He said the mood amongst CEOs was “bullish in respect to Australian CBD markets which are experiencing strong corporate activity”.
Tourism Australia Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy hosted an intriguing panel dubbed ‘bringing the tourists back – China, the hotel game changer’, where he discussed the potential of Australia’s biggest emerging inbound market.
McEvoy said visitation from China had increased by 24% in 2010 and had the potential to grow by over 220% through to 2020. He said this would be assisted by a scheduled increase of over 400 new aircraft on order by Chinese airlines, including the high-density Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental by a number of them.
Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels CEO – Australasia, Craig Collins, said transaction volumes for hotels in Australia and New Zealand in 2011 was expected to reach AUD$1 billion, down from AUD$1.45 billion in 2010, but up from AUD$729 million in 2009.
“Trading is strong and there is a lack of new supply,” Collins said. “It’s a positive investment market going forward and owners should be confident over the next couple of years.”
At the ANZPHIC lunch, the Hotel Deal of the Year was the $300 million purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort by Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, while the Group Chief Executive of UOL and Pan Pacific Hotels Group, Gwee Lian Kheng and Honorary Chair of Accor Asia Pacific, David Baffsky, were named as inductees in the ANZPHIC Hotel Legends Hall of Fame.
“Through the highs and lows of the industry, Mr Gwee and Mr Baffsky did what few others were able, or prepared to – they raised capital for the hotel industry here, their companies invested in hotels here and they separately helped build hotel management companies to operate their hotels,” Smith said. “Their achievements are truly worthy of the title of industry Legends.”