September 14, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry

Accor, which operates 25 properties across Perth and regional Western Australia, says the accommodation market is recovering strongly in Australia’s west, with hotel occupancy in the state capital just five per cent below 2019 levels in June 2022.

Accor expects the city’s occupancy levels to recover fully by March 2023.

The city versus the regions

The hotel group says while Perth hotels struggled during the first two years of the pandemic, which saw Western Australia maintain a hard border with large parts of the country and the rest of the world for longer than any other Australian state or territory, regional properties did well.

“Our regional network was relatively well insulated during the pandemic because closed borders created high levels of intrastate demand, and now it is time for our city hotels to rebuild their market base,” said CEO of Accor Pacific, Sarah Derry.

In June, Accor’s regional Western Australian offering was tracking at an average of 65 per cent occupancy, with Margaret River region property Pullman Bunker Bay Resort delivering a standout performance with occupancy 29 per cent higher than the same month pre-pandemic. In WA’s regions, resort destinations remained strong performers and mining areas were also delivering results, culminating in a positive forecast for this financial year.

Pullman Bunker Bay Resort in the Margaret River region has been a standout in the recovery of hotel occupancy in Western Australia

The role of events

Meanwhile, with the return of leisure and business travel, Perth’s accommodation sector is turning things around, but Derry said more needs to be done on a government level and that business and leisure events are part of the solution.

“As we reopen rooms in Perth, it will be important for the state government to actively drive growth for its CBD businesses through attracting more major events and conferences to the city,” she said.

“Cities around Australia and the world are seeking major events because of their revenue generating potential and Perth will need to ensure it has a high visibility amongst potential events and conference organisers.”

Support required

Derry said the recovery of the tourism sector in Australia won’t happen without help.

“The tourism industry will require government support for tourism generation and the establishment of new markets such as India, as it is unlikely that overseas markets like China are going to recover in the short-term.

“It is encouraging to see that Western Australia is outperforming other states in terms of rebuilding international demand, but the forecasts indicate that arrivals will still only be 59 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.”

Addressing the skills shortage

Derry also flagged the skills shortage for the hospitality sector and called for governments on all levels to address the issue.

“We are encouraged by the initiatives of federal and state governments to address skilled worker shortages by cutting red tape and making it easier for international workers to enter Australia and work for extended periods.

“AHA WA has estimated that the state has a shortage of some 15,000 positions in the hospitality sector and that has been impacted by the slow recovery of the foreign student sector.

“Addressing the skills and employment shortage in the tourism and hospitality sector has to be a key priority for government at all levels. We welcome the WA government’s announcement of a $3.9 million campaign to train more local hospitality workers because while an immediate increase in skilled migration is required in the short term, a ‘grow your own’ strategy is to address the shortage in the longer term,” she said.

Accor has opened four new hotels in Perth since 2019.