27/05/2014 - 14:19

Mining camps muscle in on hotels

27/05/2014 - 14:19

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The accommodation squeeze in the north-west appears to be over with at least one Pilbara hotel shutting temporarily amid industry claims construction camps close to major population centres are competing with traditional hospitality providers.

Mining camps muscle in on hotels

The accommodation squeeze in the north-west appears to be over with at least one Pilbara hotel shutting temporarily amid industry claims construction camps close to major population centres are competing with traditional hospitality providers.

The South Hedland Motel is understood to have temporarily stopped taking bookings and is redirecting enquiries to the nearby Lodge Motel. Both motels are believed to have the same owner.

Transient workers accommodation typically takes the form of camps established near resources development sites to handle the influx of boom time fly-in, fly-out construction crews, and are often operated in a hotel-like manner.

Some in the hotel industry say that, as demand has dropped, TWAs have started competing for other business. It is claimed they have an unfair advantage because they operate with less stringent operating regulations, were less costly to develop and were built on land leased cheaply from the government.

Some TWAs are advertising on websites such as wotif, while others have gained business by word of mouth.

Business adviser Dubois Group’s managing director, Alan Boys, said trading conditions for hotels and motels in Port Hedland had changed dramatically after years of boom time.

Mr Boys said the issue was occurring in towns throughout the Pilbara, claiming some TWAs began opening to the public as early as 2012 when falling iron ore prices first caused job losses, leaving them with vacancies.

Town of Port Hedland chief executive Mal Osborne said the council was in ongoing discussions with hoteliers, industry stakeholders and the state government on how TWAs had affected the hotel industry.

“The town has developed a draft non-residential workforce accommodation strategy to clearly define the purpose of TWA and outline methods of operation,” he said.

“These facilities are not designed for tourists and we do not support them being promoted as tourism accommodation options.”

Planning Minister John Day told Business News the WA Planning Commission was reviewing the issue of TWAs acting as hotels to determine whether it required state-level policy intervention.

Mr Boys said some TWAs in the Pilbara were on online booking sites but most relied on word-of-mouth business and accepted email bookings.

“If you’re passing through town or you make enquiries you’re told (you can stay at TWAs),” he said.

“They’re not necessarily (advertising) but they’re certainly making themselves known.”

Mr Boys said there was a lack of understanding on behalf of project developers about hotel performance in regional areas since the Australian Bureau of Statistics moved from publishing its results on a quarterly basis to annually.

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