Going into the pandemic, the brand image of Australia was in damage control due to the world’s perception of how we had handled the bushfires, but this has been more than made up for by the way Australia (and New Zealand) has managed and minimised the pandemic.
Once we get the vaccination component right and once international borders open, we will see a strong rebound from overseas markets wanting to travel overseas again and particularly to regions considered safe. Australia will be top of the list. Australians have also woken up to what they have in their backyard and the domestic tourism honeymoon will continue. Regional Australia will be the major beneficiary with both international and domestic tourism looking for new experiences beyond capital cities.
For decades leading up to the pandemic, tourism has been underestimated by governments at every level and by the regional communities themselves, which in turn influenced investors to overlook regional opportunities, focusing in the main on capital cities where there is now an increasing oversupply of rooms at the luxury end of the market impacting profits and RevPAR.
However, because of the pandemic, all stakeholders are finally waking up to the huge opportunity that is regional Australia, and now is the time to act as there is significant distressed stock that can be acquired at affordable prices and whose performance can be transformed through professional operational and revenue management in partnership with companies like BWH Hotel Group.
These investments will coincide with increased government investment in regional areas to support recovery and expansion of regional economies. This not only leads to opportunity within the midscale (Economy and Premium Economy sectors) but within upper midscale and beyond in the major regional hubs which are supported by growing populations, regional airports, hospitals, universities, mining and other industry sectors.
Not all the opportunities are distressed as there are also strategic acquisition opportunities plus new build development and conversion opportunities, particularly in the regional centres.
BWH Hotel Group is well placed to cater for this upsurge through its core Best Western midscale brands, its new award winning SureStay economy brands and through Sadie and Aiden at the upscale lifestyle end of the market.