Australian accommodation chair Leanne Harwood says hotels are expected to rebound from April

“There are positive indicators that we will soon return to the booking levels seen in the fourth quarter of last year,” she said.

Calendar year 2021 figures compiled by STR analysts show that Sydney and Melbourne – the two markets most reliant on international travelers and businesses – suffered the most, with average occupancy rates below 40% (although that they were both able to increase average daily rates due to changes in booking habits).

Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, which saw less severe outbreaks and disruptions, fared much better, with occupancy rates between 50-57% and higher average daily rates.

“Our national forecast for occupancy rates at the end of 2022 is just under 60%,” said STR Pacific Regional Manager Matt Burke.

“This is based on keeping borders open and no lockdown, given the high vaccination and national government roadmap. So higher than 2021, but lower than 2019.”

The recovery, Mr Burke said, would be led by the leisure sector, which has “proven to be resilient” if people are able to travel. “All markets will benefit from open borders,” he added.

Even with the Omicron epidemic still raging, the year has started better than 2021.

Preliminary January figures provided to Financial analysis by STR show that the average occupancy rate in January was 49%, four percentage points higher than in January 2021, while the average daily rate charged for a hotel room increased by 16% to 233 $.

Major hotel owner and former Rich Lister Jerry Schwartz said the regional hotel market is doing very well despite the omicron “hiccups”.

“I am very optimistic that 2022 will be fabulous and demand will continue to increase, so 2023 is a magnificent year.

“Of course, omicron has delayed the upsurge that we were expecting…but we’re hoping for a great second quarter of the year.”

While Dr Schwartz said ‘small meetings’ were returning to places such as the Hunter Valley, where he owns the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mr Burke said there was no visible increase yet “corporate trips back on the road in any quantity”. in all major capitals.

“To gather [in bookings] lags behind this time last year in the majority of capitals. This confirms that CBD performance should remain subdued in February,” Burke said.

Although optimistic about the year ahead, Ms Harwood said the key to recovery was the “guarantee” around national borders remaining open and international borders reopening to all.

This will help bring back the casual workforce – students and backpackers – to support the opening of hotels at full capacity and the thousands of new hotel rooms to come, including a dozen new IHG hotels over the next six months. first few months of the year, Ms. Harwood said.

“While we are grateful that the government has introduced the scheme to encourage the return of working holidaymakers, we need to see international borders open fully.

“It’s crazy that as an Australian I can leave the country, go to the UK, fly to Paris and fly back, but I can’t accommodate my work colleagues from the UK and Paris in Australia,” she said.

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