Double hit hurts travel industry

THE recent terrorist attacks in America and the collapse of Ansett Australia have had a significant effect on the hotel and resort industry in WA. Occupancy rates have fallen by up to 20 per cent at establishments such as the Hotel Grand Chancellor and Burswood International Resort Casino.

Julie Cameron, public relations manager for Burswood International Resort Casino, believes the industry has yet to feel the full impact of these crises and that these events will continue to have an effect on the industry in the short to medium term.

“We have experienced up to 20 per cent cancellation of bookings, slowed corporate booking pick up and delayed decisions on future events and conference bookings,” she said. “We have also experienced a decline of over 90 per cent from the United States in relation to confirmed business.”

Hotel Grand Chancellor director of sales Brett Tannahill indicated that corporate, domestic leisure, international and aircrew markets had been negatively affected due to the terrorist attacks and the collapse of Ansett. As a result, the hotel’s occupancy rate has dropped by 10 to 15 per cent.

According to Australian Hotels Association executive director Bradley Woods, the hotel industry has faced difficult trading conditions during the past few years as a result of tough economic conditions.

“The collapse of Ansett affected the hotel industry in many ways. Firstly, a number of hotels were owed a significant amount of money by Ansett, some in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.

“Those hotels are now creditors to Ansett and will not be sure how much money they will receive, if any.

“Secondly, hotels throughout the State had forward bookings, which have been cancelled because the customers had booked tickets with Ansett and Ansett Travel. Many bookings were for conventions that have been cancelled, so hotels were getting calls for cancellations of dozens of rooms at a time.”

The Australian Hotels Association is lobbying hard to gain Federal approval for its proposed five-point job rescue package. The core of this rescue package is for the Government to provide a one off, dollar-for-dollar grant up to $500 for each of the many commercial accommo-dation packages bought for holidays within Australia.

The Tourism Forecasting Council recently revised its forecast figures for international visitors to Australia, predicting a fall of 0.4 per cent, or 22,000, fewer international visitors for 2001. This decline in the number of international visitors equates to an estimated loss of $1 billion in export earnings for 2001/02 when compared with earlier forecasts.

But Mr Woods says it’s not all doom and gloom for the hotel industry. “Our industry is made up of dedicated people working in fantastic establishments, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

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