Dr Jerry Schwartz
L-R Dr Jerry Schwartz and Marianne Ossovani.

Extending the Australian Government’s JobKeeper scheme until “at least the summer months” was now critical to securing a stay of execution for many hotel industry staff, say two major hotel owners.

Labelling the matter a major political issue, prominent investor Dr Jerry Schwartz said occupancies will remain low until there is more confidence in the corporate market, necessitating an extension to the scheme to keep workers at the ready. His comments came during HM’s maiden webinar, entitled ‘The Recovery Starts Now’, sponsored by Hostplus and Intrust Super.

“There is a horrific fear that once JobKeeper finishes, until things get better around the summer months when leisure tourism increases and there is more confidence in the corporate market, occupancies will be terrible and consequently, we can’t employ staff, so it’s a major political issue to have JobKeeper continuing.”

Schwartz praised the exhaustive efforts of both Tourism Accommodation Australia and the Accommodation Association for respective, yet individual, lobbying efforts to ensure the industry’s concerns were being heard and acted on at the highest levels.

Cradle Mountain Lodge in Tasmania completed a major refurbishment prior to COVID-19.

HTL Partners CEO, Marianne Ossovani, added her calls for JobKeeper to be extended on behalf of regional hotel operators.

“Some hotels have remained open during the [pandemic] period for essential workers, but overall, demand was very low,” she said.

“Given their location, many hotels were not able to avail themselves of any quarantine business so many of them were wound down into hibernation for some months.”

All of the 14 hotels in the HTL Partners network had since reopened, propped up by the JobKeeper subsidy, with many opting to use the time to improve operational processes, carry out non-essential maintenance and refurbishments and train staff in new areas.

“The recovery has been and will continue to be challenging,” Ossovani added.