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Exclusive: Industry stepped up when needed – Johnson

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Michael Johnson.

In an exclusive column for HM, Tourism Accommodation Australia National CEO, Michael Johnson, says he couldn’t be prouder of the industry for opening its doors and play its part at home during an international crisis.

Over the last few weeks, during one of the hardest times our industry has ever faced, I was proud to see many of the nation’s finest hotels do the right thing, step forward and offer to help out our health system when it needs it most.

They ignored some of the nay-sayers in our own industry and were quick to do the best thing for the community. And it will be remembered. We were there when needed.

As we all know, self-isolation and social distancing have been identified as key in the fight to ‘flatten the curve’ and ultimately beat the outbreak of COVID-19 and save lives. It’s a sad fact the highest percentage of cases in Australia have been as a result of people coming into the country from overseas.

With that in mind, the accommodation sector was the first to step up to provide a safe, secure and comfortable solution to quarantine those coming into the country and ensure the health and wellbeing of communities from this potentially deadly disease.

InterContinental Sydney is one of many city hotels to be housing quarantined guests.

We understand times are tough. We understand these people are not on holiday. We understand they would rather be in their own homes.

But reading some of the online articles recently, you would think some of our finest hotels were little better than prisons. Many fed up people in quarantine are turning to social media to gripe about the temporary loss of their liberties – we get it. It is a difficult situation. However, it is no excuse to attack great venues which are only trying to help this government ruling. It is especially no excuse to abuse and harass our hardworking staff who are doing their best in an extremely difficult situation.

Our staff, after all, are people too. With the same stresses and worries of many in quarantine.

And don’t even get me started on the tweets of people like Lara Worthington (nee Bingle), who really should know better. Enough said there.

The facts are plain. Some of our largest and most luxurious hotel brands are among those currently hosting self-isolating guests, including Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group and Accor, among others.

These are some of our country’s most sought-after accommodation properties. They are the recipients of industry awards and providers of world-renowned facilities. They are venues Australians can be proud of.

If this is prison, who needs freedom?

There is no doubt these are challenging times and we are all in this together.

We feel for guests wanting to return to their homes and families, but we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Thousands of people could lose their lives around this great country. Our hotels are safe and secure. They have measures in place to ensure the highest calibre of health practices.

We know this is not an ideal scenario for those in quarantine, but it is a necessary measure.

These people are not on holiday – they are in isolation, for their good and for the greater good. It is as simple as that.

By providing safe, secure and comfortable accommodation throughout this unprecedented period, our hotels are contributing to our country’s embattled economy. They are providing jobs and security for some staff. Keeping people off government assistance programs for as long as possible.

As a leader of our industry, I am proud of what our hotels and their teams are doing and prouder still of those quarantine guests – and they are in the majority – who are able to see the necessity of self-isolation and who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our nation, our states and our local communities safe.

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