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New Hotel Council launches to support beleaguered sector

New Zealand hoteliers have united to form a new national organisation – Hotel Council Aotearoa – which is dedicated to improving outcomes for beleaguered hotels in the wake of COVID.

HCA is positioned as the pre-eminent representative body for hotels, hoteliers and supporters of the hotel sector. The new Council now speaks on behalf of 140 New Zealand hotels comprising more than 15,800 guest rooms, or approximately 5.7 million room nights per annum.

Membership is anticipated to grow even further in coming months.

HCA’s newly-appointed board and advisory board represent the diversity of its membership including independent hotels, internationally-branded hotels and chains, regional hotels and chains, strata title hotels, general managers, hotel developers and other supporters of New Zealand’s hotel sector.

"We’re delighted to announce Hotel Council Aotearoa after a lot of behind-the-scenes work. It’s extraordinary that so many leading New Zealand hoteliers, each facing their own pressing operational challenges, have made this farsighted decision to help improve overall outcomes for the sector, and it shows the scale of the challenge facing us as the world continues to fight against COVID," HCA’s strategic director James Doolan says.

"HCA will promote activities and policy settings which support the long-term profitability and sustainability of the hotel sector. Hotels are key tourism infrastructure and without sufficient international-standard hotels, New Zealand cannot compete for its fair share of high-value, international tourists."

HCA has signed a relationship agreement with Tourism Industry Aotearoa, the peak body for the New Zealand tourism industry. Under the terms of that agreement, HCA will become an industry association member of TIA, with TIA and HCA working together on advocacy matters of mutual concern.

"We are very happy to be formally aligned with TIA and working together on matters of mutual interest. Tourism is a vital component in New Zealand’s economy, and hotels are an essential ingredient in the tourism industry’s success," says James.

Commenting on the relationship agreement between TIA and HCA, TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says: "TIA has existing relationships with around 20 tourism sector-specific associations, and we are establishing a similar relationship with HCA. We see real benefit in working together to amplify our voice whilst at the same time maintaining our independence and separate organisational structures."

"The time is right for Government to start formulating policy in a strategic and considered way for the benefit of hotels and our tourism sector, and HCAs’ role is to clearly communicate the complex and unique challenges facing hotels in response to COVID," James says.

"Hotels have responded bravely to COVID, with little industry-specific support. Border closures have continued for much longer than any of us anticipated, and even now there is no visibility on a return to unhindered international travel and normal trading conditions. Consequently, the pain for hotels has been much greater than any anyone predicted.

"With borders closed, revenue has plummeted. If a hotel guest room is left unoccupied, or sold at a material discount, lost revenue can’t be caught up at a later date, and it has been impossible for New Zealand hotels to maintain staffing at pre-COVID levels. Meanwhile, costs such as maintenance, utilities, rates, insurance and interest continue to accrue."

"It will be years, not months, before hotels fully recover from the impact of COVID, and it is definitely not the right time to start adding to hotel costs in the form of new taxes or compliance burdens."

HCA, which incorporated in December last year, has already been advocating to Government on pressing immigration and operational challenges, including issues around the shortage of qualified hotel labour in destinations around the country.

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