Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Simon McGrath AM

Leading hoteliers have reacted positively to the NSW Government’s plan to stimulate the Sydney CBD hotel market by providing 200,000 vouchers – each worth $100 – to spend on a hotel stay, saying the initiative will provide a much-needed boost.

The expansion of the government’s ‘Dine and Discover’ program was unveiled three days before the end of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper lifeline which kept life support machines on for the entire accommodation sector during the most volatile months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with Australia having largely suppressed the virus from the community, vaccines being rolled out at expanding rates, but borders remaining closed, hotels and their workforces were becoming increasingly desperate for further support before regular customer supply chains, including overseas visitors, could resume.

Sydney’s hotels are set to benefit through the government incentive to get people back to the CBD.

Accor Pacific CEO, Simon McGrath, said the government’s announcement was a very accurate piece of strategy to stimulate the city.

“Sixty percent of tourism employment is in cities and CBD locations and until borders are open and conferencing, events and international markets come back, they certainly need support and this provides that very accurately,” McGrath said.

“Then, with the support on events and entertainment, it should have a long trail on it.”

While the voucher program will be valid initially only for city hotels, McGrath added that he believed there would be a “halo effect” which will see the benefits push out into suburban and metropolitan regions.

IHG Hotels and Resorts Managing Director Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood.

IHG Hotels and Resorts Managing Director Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood, said the initiative puts the support right where it’s needed most and that IHG was expecting a well-received boost to its Sydney hotels.

“I was absolutely thrilled to see the NSW Government stepping up to support Sydney CBD hotels that have been so badly impacted by international border closures and loss of corporate end events business, and it’s fantastic to see it will soon be expanded to Greater Sydney,” Harwood said.

“What’s still missing is the support from the Federal Government, and our ask is that it recognises catastrophic situation in the Sydney and Melbourne market and properly addresses it by reallocating part of the recently announced aviation and tourism support package to support to the hotel industry.”

Hilton Vice President of Operations Australasia, Heidi Kunkel

Hilton Australasia Vice President Operations, Heidi Kunkel, said the government’s announcement was timely.

“With JobKeeper ending this month and Sydney remaining the country’s worst performing city accommodation market, I am hopeful this scheme will help to drive much-needed corporate and leisure business back into our Sydney hotels.”

Event Hospitality Director of Hotels, Norman Arundel.

Event Hospitality & Entertainment Director of Hotels and Resorts, Norman Arundel, said the stimulus was a positive step, congratulating the government for encouraging NSW residents to help reinvigorate the hospitality industry.

“We will enthusiastically support this initiative and will back the campaign with further added value deals to amplify the offer and would welcome a similar response from the Victorian Government to support Melbourne hotels.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia National CEO, Michael Johnson.

Support for the initiative was similarly forthcoming from Tourism Accommodation Australia, with TAA National CEO, Michael Johnson, saying the government’s announcement could not have come at a better time.

“Most [hotels] are still well under 35% occupancy with international borders remaining closed and a continuing lack of conferences, large meetings and events being held,” Johnson said.

“The end of JobKeeper will be another blow, so today’s State Government announcement is perfectly timed – it allows hotels to retain more staff knowing bookings are on the horizon once again.

“This is something TAA NSW has been pushing for – it will go a long way towards supporting Sydney’s overall visitor economy.”

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, added his congratulations, saying it was welcome acknowledgment of how hard the pandemic has been for city hotels.

“If we can stoke CBD activity, which this additional AUD$51.5 million economic package is designed to do, then we know there will be domino benefits across into the wider Sydney market,” Long said.

“With JobKeeper coming to an end, this initiative to support accommodation, tourism and entertainment will bring a smile to the face of accommodation providers and our people by bringing people back to the heart of Sydney.”

More information on how NSW residents can claim a voucher will be revealed in the coming weeks.