WA hospitality boom during COVID-19

September 7, 2020
By Alana House

West Australian businesses are reporting a hospitality boom as border closures and international travel bans lead locals to spend up big at home.

One Cottesloe restaurateur told The Age the past four months had been “completely flat out” with bookings full for lunch and dinner almost daily.

“People who would usually be spending their spare money on holidays and going away and the like can’t at the moment, and the entire industry in the western suburbs are getting swamped with people eating out,” he said.

“And normally these people might spend $30 on a bottle of wine with dinner. Well now they’re looking at $50-60 options.”

Regional tourist areas such as Broome and Margaret River have also benefited, with accommodation booked out most weekends.

Pullman Bunker Bay

Pullman Bunker Bay Resort (above), located in Dunsborough, said it has been booked out most weekends throughout winter, with the hospitality boom meaning it’s even been at 60-70% capacity mid-week.

Jacinta Rets from nearby brewpub BeerFarm (pictured main) added: “We’ve been fully booked every day since re-opening, and on weekends we have busloads of people coming through, it’s been incredible.”

The Western Australian Government has launched a campaign encouraging 18-30 year old Western Australians to explore the regional areas of their home state on a working holiday to address staffing shortages during the hospitality boom, called Work and Wander Out Yonder.

Traditionally international backpackers have been a huge part of this workforce, but with 50,000 working holiday makers having left Australia due to COVID-19, jobseekers must be found closer to home.

AHA speaks out on border closure

However, the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) WA has expressed concerns about the WA Government’s decision to keep the state’s borders closed indefinitely.

It said that while it understands the WA Government prioritising health considerations for the state, keeping the state’s border closed comes at a cost.

AHA(WA) CEO Bradley Woods said while WA is in a fortunate economic position, keeping our borders closed means the burden is being borne by Perth hotels and some parts of the state’s remote tourism sector, with careers lost and employment opportunities sacrificed.

“If a vaccine for COVID-19 is still a long way off, there will be even more long term negative implications,” Woods said.

“We must also plan to protect Western Australia from losing not just tourism but also conferences and the convention industry.”

“As other states open borders and people are free to travel, they will be sure to steal business away from WA.”

“The AHA is continuing our close engagement with the Premier and Minister for Tourism.”

“Our immediate priority is seeking from the WA Government a roadmap to the borders opening so that industry can navigate the challenging months ahead.”

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