An uplift in occupancy levels on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast is driving a resurgence in Queensland hotel performances for Australia’s largest hotel group.
Accor is the largest hotel operator in Queensland, with 101 hotels across the state and over 4,000 team members.
For the period between January – March 2022, Accor’s Queensland hotels recorded an average occupancy of 70% compared to 67% 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 Q1 2022 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 fueling 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.
Far North Queensland, based on Cairns and Port Douglas, 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% lower than the similar pre-pandemic period.
Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Derry, said that while the continuing prevalence of COVID-19 variants, uncertainty about borders, and the ban on international tourists until last month had all suppressed demand, Accor’s Queensland hotels had been successful in pivoting to largely domestic leisure business.
“Queensland is set to lead the Australian recovery in travel. 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,” said Ms Derry, who was appointed CEO of Accor Pacific in January 2022.
“We saw two of Australia’s most popular leisure destinations – the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast – regain most of the ground lost over the past two years by successfully targeting the drive markets within Queensland and interstate.”
“The results reveal that Australians love to travel to Queensland. A combination of greater certainty regarding borders, an increase in flights, State and Federal stimulus measures, and a range of targeted marketing programs have significantly elevated holiday travel to Queensland in 2022.”
“It is particularly encouraging that all restrictions impacting travel between Australia and New Zealand will be lifted from 12 April – 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. New Zealand travellers generally stay longer than any other market.”
“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. Australia’s reputation for managing the pandemic, attractions such as our beautiful coastlines, national parks, and lifestyle will be positive drivers of international inbound.”
“Conferences and events are beginning to show encouraging signs of recovery. Conferences are vital for filling destinations mid-week, while events maximise occupancies over weekends.”
“We are still some way from seeing a return to normal levels of corporate travel. 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.”
“Last week’s announcement by the Federal Government to provide AU$5 million in additional funding to support Tourism Australia’s capacity to bid for major events is encouraging, as was the overall AU$60 million package to revive international travel, but this support will need to be ongoing if we are to re-build business, conference, and events travel to pre-Covid levels. 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.”
“We are fortunate to work with partners who see the long-term potential of Queensland for growth in travel. We are working with them to maximise the guest experience through refurbishments and upgrades. We are also working closely with state and regional tourism organisations to generate new travel demand in their destinations through promotions and innovative marketing.”
“As we recover, we will create more career opportunities for people, and our teams across the state have been recruiting strongly over the past quarter, with the advantage of Accor being able to offer unprecedented opportunities for career growth locally and internationally.”
“Accor will be introducing a range of new hotels and new brands to the Queensland market over the next few years including Mövenpick Brisbane Spring Hill, Fairmont Port Douglas and Mondrian Gold Coast.”