HCA Strategic Director, James Doolan.

A new national organisation in New Zealand committed to fighting for a greater share of political voice and industry recognition has formally announced its launch, with membership expected to grow in coming months.

The newly-formed Hotel Council Aotearoa, incorporated in December 2020, will be led by Strategic Director, James Doolan, and has been working behind the scenes for some time, amassing an initial membership of more than 140 hotels and representing nearly 16,000 rooms. According to HCA, its members represent internationally branded hotels and resorts, independent hotels, regional properties and chains, strata title hotels, developers, general managers and other supporters of the sector in New Zealand.

The organisation’s initial push is to ensure improved outcomes for its members during the recovery from COVID-19. To assist with this, the organisation has signed a relationship agreement with Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), which will see it become an industry association member and to work together on matters of mutual interest.

The Cordis, Auckland.

The organisation has already begun pressing the New Zealand government on immigration and operational matters, including labour shortages.

“We’re delighted to announce Hotel Council Aotearoa after a lot of behind-the-scenes work,” said Doolan.

“It’s extraordinary that so many leading New Zealand hoteliers, each facing their own pressing operational challenges, have made this farsighted decision to help improve overall outcomes for the sector, and it shows the scale of the challenge facing us as the world continues to fight against COVID.

“HCA will promote activities and policy settings which support the long-term profitability and sustainability of the hotel sector. Hotels are key tourism infrastructure and without sufficient international-standard hotels, New Zealand cannot compete for its fair share of high-value, international tourists,” Doolan said.

Ramada Queenstown

The organisation said hotels have battled bravely against the impact of COVID, receiving “little” industry support. With border closures lasting longer than anticipated, there is no visibility on a return to unhindered international travel and trading conditions.

“It will be years, not months, before hotels fully recover from the impact of COVID, and it is definitely not the right time to start adding to hotel costs in the form of new taxes or compliance burdens,” Doolan added.