L-R Dean Long, Accommodation Association and Michael Johnson, TAA

Leaders from more than 20 Australasian and Pacific hotel networks have united to petition the Federal Government to redirect AUD$270 million out of the recently announced tourism stimulus towards Sydney and Melbourne hotels.

Both leading industry associations, Tourism Accommodation Australia and the Accommodation Association, have also joined as signatories on the letter.

The letter, which can be accessed HERE, calls for urgent action to ensure as many as 18,000 skilled staff are retailed. The plea calls for money to be diverted away from the aviation scheme which involves 800,000 half-price airfares for travel to any of 17 destinations in regional parts of Australia.

Hotel revenues in Sydney are down 67% from a year ago.

Both cities have seen revenue downturns of up to 70% in the past year, with forward bookings for the next three months tracking at 10%. The letter says that with no signs of international borders reopening and corporate travel still virtually non-existent, the situation is not likely to improve anytime soon.

“We have reduced head counts by over 50% and continue to invest millions of dollars each month to ensure our world class hotels will be able to assist in Australia’s recovery,” the letter reads.

“Yet it is not enough.”

Thousands of skilled workers in Melbourne (pictured) and Sydney must be retained, the letter reads.

As the Government rightly recognised with the support package for Qantas international employees, if Australia’s tourism industry is to recover quickly and to a world class standard, skilled staff need to be retained. We need a similar support package for Australia’s accommodation professionals to ensure we can provide the same quality of experience on the ground as in the sky now while international borders are closed and once they re-open.”

Signatories to the letter include board members from both Associations and – in alphabetical order – Barry Robinson (Wyndham Destinations), Graham Perry (BWH Hotel Group), Chris Sedgwick (TFE Hotels), Heidi Kunkel (Hilton), Damian Quayle (The Star Entertainment Group), John Dabner (Tall Timbers Tasmania), Dave Baswal (Ovolo Group), Julian Clark (Lancemore Group), David Mansfield (The Ascott Limited), Leanne Harwood (IHG Hotels and Resorts), Dean Long (Accommodation Association), Michael Johnson (Tourism Accommodation Australia), Geoff York (Crystalbrook Collection), Norman Arundel (Event Hospitality), Peter Crinis (Crown Hotels), Ramy Filo (Classic Holidays), Robert Dawson (Hyatt Hotels and Resorts), Simon McGrath (Accor), Sean Hunt (Marriott International), Tracy Atherton (Jackalope Hotels) and Trent Fraser (Choice Hotels Asia-Pac).

Australian Hotels Association National CEO, Stephen Ferguson.

At the same time, the Australian Hotels Association has called on the federal government to provide “targeted, temporary assistance” to hospitality businesses in the wake of Queensland’s three-day COVID-19 lockdown, which is due to end tomorrow afternoon.

“This could not have come at a worse time,” said AHA CEO, Stephen Ferguson.

“With JobKeeper ending, Queensland businesses were already worried – now their Easter trade state-wide will be decimated in the lead up to a traditionally very busy period.

“We are at a loss what to say to our members and our workforce.”