Domestic support keeps Australian hotel occupancy healthy despite coronavirus

It appears Australians have heeded the call to support the local tourism sector, with occupancy rates in the nation’s hotels seeing a bump over the start of the year.

This is in contrast to the hotel sector across Asia seeing occupancy rates fall off a cliff due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the latest figures from hotel research firm STR, between January 6 and February 16, weekly occupancy rates across Australia increased by 11 per cent to 73 per cent (in absolute terms).

Compare that to Macau which has seen its occupancy rate fall from 96 per cent to 3 per cent, Hong Kong down to 25 per cent occupancy, and Taiwan sliding to 26 per cent occupancy.

Jesper Palmqvist, Asia Pacific director at STR, said despite the bushfires, Australia is seeing far less impact from the coronavirus (COVID-19) compared to Asia.

“When looking at daily data for the past 30-45 days, we can’t really see many state or territory capitals where business has dropped to a large degree in direct correlation to the key dates in COVID-19 spread, as in travel advisory decisions or the Chinese New Year,” Palmqvist told the Australian Financial Review.

But one state in Australia is more vulnerable, with Queensland’s tourism dependent regions in the far north being hit hardest by the ban on visitors from China.

“In Tropical North Queensland there has been a significant drop in occupancy driven by a combination of end of holidays and virus-related demand drop, but it is growing in the past couple of weeks,” he said.

“For many markets it’s business as usual for this time of year.”