US tennis fans help boost hotel occupancy during Australian Open

australian open
Austdalian Open 2023. Photo: Wikipedia

Marriott International is hoping this year’s Australian Open will deliver an even better result than last year which saw occupancy across its 11 Melbourne hotels hit 80 per cent.

The group’s hotels were currently sitting at 77 per cent, with the Ritz-Carlton fully booked.

International visitors made up 56 per cent of total bookings, compared with 30 per cent last year, with US tennis fans counting for more than half of the internationals bookings thanks to an exchange rate tilted in their favour.

“The American dollar has a lot of buying power right now and the airlines are playing ball, so we are packed out, with Americans coming from as far as New York,” Marriot’s local boss Sean Hunt told The Australian Financial Review.

The first week of the Australian Open saw record crowds, with 89,894 visitors passing through the gates.

The Australian Open broke its attendance record last year with 839,192 fans heading Melbourne Park over two weeks, boosting Melbourne’s economy by $400 million.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley said they were aiming to see a record 1 million visitors this year.

The Victorian government spent $43 million keeping the event afloat during Covid, a loan which has since been forgiven.

“This is Victoria’s event, this is the taxpayers of Victoria, their event,” Tiley said.

Swinburne University’s Dr Kasey Symons said the Australian Open’s popularity has been aided by efforts to make the event as inclusive as possible.

“It offers so many different points of access and reasons to be there, which works to remove a lot of barriers that – particularly women and gender diverse people – have when it comes to attending sporting events,” she told The Guardian.

“People can go sit outside in the gardens and have an Aperol Spritz with their friends … go for a shop, have something to eat or see one of the bands that they have performing and maybe catch some of the tennis.

“That might be a stepping stone to becoming a fan of tennis, but it’s not pushed on you.”