May 21, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo

In a wide-ranging interview on future trends in hospitality and tourism, Accor Pacific CEO Simon McGrath said the industry needed to accelerate hotel development as he promised new luxury and lifestyle brands for Melbourne and the regions.

“Globally we are seeing that when borders open and there’s any opportunity, people will travel.  [That] provides us with some confidence,” he said at a media luncheon hosted by Melbourne’s Sofitel on Collins.

“In the Pacific region we have a strong economy…in regional and leisure locations we’re seeing the great Australian domestic traveller, who previously would have been outbound, taking advantage of regional. And the next wave will be animating the cities and we’re going to see a large part of that being driven by events.”

He said the tourism industry would accelerate support for events – cultural, sporting and business events.

“There are many good things that came out of COVID, one of them being the respect for events in cities right around Australia and I think Melbourne will lead the way…a wonderful vibrant city which should lead Australian tourism,” he said, adding that the biggest risk was complacency.

“We were all very proud of our federal and state politicians at the beginning of COVID; the way they came together in a ‘war room’, so to speak, and started to plan and take responsibility for the country, but that tended to fracture and it is a shame we are now seeing debates between federal and state politicians about borders,” said McGrath

Suggesting some politicians had gone into election mode, McGrath said the industry required confidence in borders to ensure recovery.

“We don’t care about the bickering, we expect coordination so we can get some certainty to those borders.”

He said Accor would continue to accelerate and open new hotels, some of which had been three or more years in the planning,. Lifestyle brands such as 25hours and Mondrian would be opened in Melbourne along with So/ and other luxury properties as part of Accor’s portfolio of 38 brands.