An uplift in occupancy levels on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast is driving a resurgence in Queensland hotel performances for the state’s largest hotel operator Accor.
For the period between January–March 2022, Accor’s Queensland hotels recorded an average occupancy of 70 per cent compared to 67 per cent in the same period in 2019, prior to Covid-19.
The figures for 2022 exclude nearly all international travel to the state and take into account the impact of the Omicron variant.
The two leading destinations for Accor in the first quarter this year were the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
The Gold Coast, which suffered significantly from losses of international travel due to closed borders until mid-February, saw domestic markets recover strongly, with the drive market fuelling growth in booking demand at higher levels than 2019.
The Sunshine Coast saw holiday season occupancies on par with 2019 figures, as the region attracted consistently high levels of interstate and intrastate business.
Cairns and Port Douglas in Far North Queensland are facing a slower recovery due to the absence of international travellers and caution around long-haul domestic flights. Occupancies remained subdued during the quarter, but began to show signs of revival towards the end of February.
The lack of corporate and conference travel – with ‘work from home’ recommendations still in place for much of the quarter – saw Brisbane city hotels record occupancies up to 25 per cent lower than the similar pre-pandemic period.
“Queensland is set to lead the Australian recovery in travel,” said Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry.
“The state’s natural attractions, climate and environment, combined with its popularity for conferences and events, provide us with considerable optimism for the rest of 2022.”
Derry welcomed the return of travel between New Zealand and Australia from April 12.
“That will provide a massive shot in the arm for Queensland, as the trans-Tasman market is a strong source market for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, particularly during the winter season,” she said.
“Other international markets will take considerably longer to return to pre-pandemic levels. Airlines are beginning to ramp up schedules, with Queensland attracting increased services from Asia, the Pacific and North America.”
Derry said conferences and events were beginning to show “encouraging signs of recovery” but of corporate travel was still “some way” off.
“We are still from seeing a return to normal levels,” she said.
“With companies still often working remotely, and with caution about the pandemic, it could take until the second half of 2022 to see a sustained recovery in business travel. There were small indications of Brisbane rebuilding corporate travel in the latter period of the first quarter, but the floods in February and early March brought challenges.”
Derry also welcomed the Federal Government’s $5 million funding boost to support Tourism Australia’s capacity to bid for major events and the $60 million package to revive international travel.
“This support will need to be ongoing if we are to re-build business, conference and events travel to pre-Covid levels,” she said.
“I urge Government to consider how they might provide further support to enable our great cities return to prosperity through arts, sports and cultural events.”