April 27, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo
It is a double-edged sword for the hospitality industry as the boom in hotel development in major capitals has seen some staff leave hospitality for the construction industry.
So while Business Events Tasmania CEO Marnie Craig has seen four new five-star hotels open during the pandemic in Hobart and Launceston, she notes that a number of industry members lost good staff to construction jobs.
“We have certainly seen people in hospitality move across to the construction sector. In an environment that lasted for a really long time with so much uncertainty, people were looking to find secure employment and government has obviously pitched a lot of money into the construction sector,” she said, adding, “we still do have a lot of great staff who have hung in there and as we open up, we are seeing strong recovery.”
Business events prospects are looking good with plenty of intrastate activity and 65 percent of events bookings postponed rather than cancelled during the pandemic. Craig said that while some would go hybrid, there were “strong prospects for 2022”. She said two major events would proceed face-to-face this year: an 800-delegate national psychiatry conference in Hobart next month and another for 300 in Launceston later in the year.
Tasmania was also a beneficiary of the New Zealand travel bubble, getting two direct flights per week and already she said there was some interest shown by New Zealand business events organisers to hold events in Tasmania.
New hotels opened in Tasmania since the pandemic have added another 750 rooms to the state. They include Crowne Plaza, Vibe and Movenpick in Hobart and The Verge in Launceston. Scheduled to debut in October is Marriott’s Luxury Collection hotel, The Tasman. In a building dating from the 1800s, it will have 152 rooms in a modern Art Deco style. It has six event spaces and a maximum function capacity of 500.
Hobart has plenty of accommodation walking distance from a major plenary with capacity for 1200 and Launceston can stage events in a plenary for 800, but she said 400 to 500 was a better fit. Boutique stays, including incentive and reward visits were also an important part of the mix around the state.
Craig said marketing campaigns were being run around the mainland capitals as Tasmania looked to replace the international visitor market, principally drawn from Asia. She hoped that market would return in time, meanwhile they were looking to tell the rest of Australia what’s unique about the Apple Isle.