Victoria’s COVID lockdown spreads economic pain to NSW

Updated: Industry body calls for urgent government assistance for workers and businesses forced to close by snap lockdowns

Victoria’s snap COVID lockdown is having a damaging ripple effect on NSW accommodation hotels already struggling to overcome staff shortages and prolonged trade restrictions says TAA CEO Michael Johnson.

NSW hotels have had a flood of cancellations since the Victorian lockdown began on Thursday, 27 May.

Mr Johnson explains: “There has been a surge in cancellations across the Sydney and greater Sydney regions, where hotels have been struggling to survive for more than 15 months now.

“Some major CBD hotels have fallen back below 20 per cent occupancy, near the lowest occupancy rates since the pandemic began early last year.”

Regional NSW hotels have also received many cancellations from local and interstate tourists and conference delegates from Victoria.

He reveals: “More than 100 conference delegates cancelled in the Hunter region alone – one hotel lost bookings for 60 rooms for three nights.

“We understand public safety is always the priority, but these lockdowns have a huge flow-on impact in terms of revenue and confidence to the travelling public and could not come at a worse time for accommodation hotels.”

Mr Johnson said the industry is struggling to recover from its worst year in living memory and is facing a skills crisis shortage.

“This was a problem before COVID and it is even worse now due to the lack of international students, working holiday makers and temporary visa holders,” he said.

“Hotels, particularly, are crying out for skilled staff like chefs, cooks and front-line staff and apprentices. Many can’t open rooms because they don’t have the staff to service them.”

Recently, TAA called on National Cabinet to agree on co-ordinated targeted, temporary assistance for workers and businesses forced to close by snap lockdowns.

Friday 4 June – Update from Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson regarding Federal Government COVID disaster package:

“The TAA is grateful for the assistance provided to employees in locked down jurisdictions.

“That assistance will go some way to helping them pay their bills and for our hotels to retain them in the hospitality and accommodation sectors. 

“Just as importantly, we need to recognise the ‘sledgehammer’ approach to stemming the spread of the virus is not sustainable in the long run –  other businesses operate as normal, but industries such as hospitality, accommodation and tourism keep paying the price.

“There is simply no reason for the regional areas of Victoria to still be under severe trading restrictions such as a 50 person cap per venue. Many venues simply cannot open under that limit, pushing businesses and employees to the brink.”

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