“Painful” Easter for local accommodation businesses
LOCAL accommodation businesses say they’ve taken one of their biggest hits yet this Easter and school holiday period due to the coronavirus travel restrictions.
Their loss comes after some of the sector’s giants, such as Airbnb or third-party booking sites, came under fire this week for allowing customers to plan and book stays in popular travel destinations, despite strict government directives and the threat of on-the-spot fines from police.
McNevin’s Warwick Motel manager Debbie Bender said even though the coronavirus restrictions were necessary for the long-term health of the business and the broader community, it didn’t make it any easier to deal with the more immediate revenue loss.
“We’ve gone from pretty much a full house to no one in house at all – a massive decrease in bookings, and an increase in cancellations,” Ms Bender said.
“It started off when the events started to get cancelled, which is a big drawcard for visitors from other towns, and we’ve certainly noticed it as (the government) has tightened up on travelling.
Once they put a restriction on everything but essential travelling, that was the catalyst for huge numbers of cancellations coming through.”
Centre Point Mid City Motor Inn owner Eddie Raets agreed, saying his business had gone from being booked out over the Easter long weekend to having almost no reservations for the next several months.
“It’s just dealing with the cancellations – when they first started rolling in, it was very deflating,” Mr Raets said.
“There’s still a few bookings for May, which I haven’t heard from yet but am assuming they’ll be cancelling.
If events like the Warwick Rodeo don’t end up going ahead, it’ll probably be this time next year before we start getting bookings and can take a breath again.”
Both of the local accommodation businesses said their real only source of income was essential workers required to travel to Warwick and its surrounds, such as police patrolling the borders or government employees.
However, Ms Bender said not even these sporadic bookings would be enough without local government and the wider community stepping up and taking some of the pressure off small local businesses.
“It would be irresponsible to do anything yet, but I think the (Southern Downs Regional Council) need to start looking at other ways they can help, especially once we are back in full form again and getting events back up and running,” she said.
“I’d be really interested in seeing how they plan to start helping small businesses – their hands are tied to a certain extent, but they’d certainly be able to help with lowering rates or rent.
As individuals, we also really need to get behind the community and small businesses, and make sure if there’s a way to spend locally to do so.”