Words: James Wells

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) NSW chairman Peter Tudehope hosted over 100 guests at The Langham Sydney last week, and in his address discussed growth and challenges facing the sector.

“The accommodation industry is a major part of the New South Wales visitor economy directly contributing 15 per cent of NSW’s total tourism gross product and 20 per cent of tourism’s flow-on gross product of $26.8 billion. The sector, through direct and flow-on impacts supports over 56,000 jobs in New South Wales,” Tudehope said.

“The industry continues to grow and innovate with over 3,000 rooms coming online in the past couple of years. Notable openings in the past year have been the Sofitel Darling Harbour, the West Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, Mantra Sydney Airport, Skye Hotel Suites Parramatta, and The William Inglis MGallery by Sofitel at Warwick Farm to open early next month.

“What is so encouraging about this investment is that the projects range from luxury international brand names to intimate boutique hotels traversing a vast range of styles and price points. Importantly there has also been significant investment in refurbishment with Amora, Four Seasons, Radisson Blu, Sydney Harbour Marriott and Sheraton on the Park some of the recent hotels that have undertaken significant refurbishment.

“However a major issue with developing a hotel in Sydney is the combination of time and cost associated with the planning process and the significant regulatory requirements.  TAA has commissioned research in the first quarter of this year to examine the above issues and make recommendations on maintaining a sustainable supply pipeline in the Sydney market.

“Key to maintaining a sustainable supply pipeline is also addressing the issue of unregulated accommodation. This month has seen significant announcements around the tightening of registrations in San Francisco (Airbnb’s home city) with the introduction of a 30 day limit and the introduction of a 30 day limit in Amsterdam, down from 60 days. Cities and countries worldwide are quickly recognising that home sharing platforms have evolved into commercial short-term accommodation businesses (‘quasi hotels’) that impact on housing affordability and availability. It also impacts hotel investor confidence in the market.

“We call on the NSW Government to act to follow the lead of these overseas cities to introduce common-sense regulations around commercial short-term letting.

“On the positive side we welcome the significant commitment by the NSW Government to the visitor economy over the past six years, with $193 million invested in 2017/18.

“Together with favourable economic factors, this support has been instrumental in promoting growth in the visitor economy and providing confidence to investors.  The NSW Government’s commitment to infrastructure such as the International Convention Centre, the redevelopment of Barangaroo, the revitalisation of the Bays Precinct, and the Parramatta City Centre, recognises the importance of remaining competitive if we are to continue to have a sustainable visitor economy.

“The growth in regional visitor nights in the past year, is a strong testament to government’s renewed focus and investment in driving visitation to regional NSW, with Destination NSW developing a range of regional campaigns to showcase the wonderful product across the state. It is important to continue to build on this momentum, not only with the rollout of the DMPs but with a renewed focus on regional business events and regional transport and infrastructure.

“We commend the NSW government for their long term support for the visitor economy, initiated with the development of the Visitor Economy Plan in 2012.  The present review provides an opportunity for the Taskforce, industry and government to build on the significant work undertaken in the past six years.

Among the guests in attendance were: The Minister for Tourism & Major Events and Assistant Minister for Skills, the Hon. Adam Marshall MP; The Minister for Innovation & Better Regulation, the Hon. Matt Kean MP; The Minister for Counter Terrorism, Minister for Corrections, and Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Hon. David Elliott MP; The Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Treasurer, Mr Jonathan O’Dea MP; Federal Member for North Sydney and Chair of the Coalition Friends of Tourism, Trent Zimmerman MP; Chair Business Events Sydney,  Mr Bruce Baird AM; Chair, Destination Sydney Surround South, Col Waller; Chair, Destination Sydney Surrounds North, David Fellowes; TAA (NSW) Board Members including Martin Ferguson, AM, Chair of the National TAA Board and former Federal Minister of Tourism and Langham Hotel Sydney general manager, Gaylord Lamy.