Outgoing Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Simon McGrath AM
Accor Chief Operating Officer – Pacific, Simon McGrath AO

Accor’s Chief Operating Officer for the Pacific, Simon McGrath, says the company could be forced to close hotels for up to six months of 2021 if Queensland’s borders continue to be indefinitely closed.

He says the ongoing domestic border closure is costing the state around AU$17 million per day and urgent action is required to save the state’s economy.

“The current border restrictions mean that Queensland will miss out on the summer dollar, a crucial period for local businesses, the economy and jobs,” he says.

“Now is when people are booking visits for the next three to six months and if they don’t have certainty that Queensland will be open, then Queensland will miss the surge in travel and fall behind other states.

“Queensland could go from leadership to last in the race for tourism,” he says.

With tourism annually contributing AU$25 billion to the Queensland economy employing 217,000 Queenslanders directly or indirectly, McGrath says the ongoing uncertainty will put those numbers at risk.

“If Queensland misses this crucial booking window and job keeper falls away, then some hotels will close for the first six months of 2021,” he says.

“This will significantly impair the state’s ability to bounce back; certainty is required now.”

According to Austrade, Queensland has around 30,000 hotel rooms and apartments across the state and Accor predicts that over 70% could sit unoccupied through the coming months if the border uncertainty continues, “which could lead to business closures for the first six months of 2021,” McGrath says.

“This is not just bad news for the hotel business, but has a knock-on effect for local business owners too,” he says.

“The livelihoods of small business owners, from café owners, to restaurants to taxi drivers are at stake.

“We are urging the State Government to use common sense, provide clarity and safely open up borders, which will set Queensland up for a stronger 2021 and save jobs. We all want to see local businesses thriving and workers return to work.

“A hard border reopening date will give the rest of Australia the certainty they need to make plans for the future, and people need to be assured that when borders do eventually open, they will stay open.

“As soon as we are certain of a border reopen date, Queensland should prepare for a big summer boom,” McGrath says.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management