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Melbourne hotels all but empty, yet more set to open

Hilton opened a hotel in Little Queen Street this year and has not taken part in Victoria’s quarantine program.

“We are optimistic that we will see pent-up demand unlocked as vaccine distribution leads to the easing of travel restrictions,” a spokeswoman said.

David Perry, general manager of Jazz Corner Hotel, which is launching a second establishment in Melbourne later this year, said hotels were now having to fight to attract customers for the first time.

“Up to the pandemic, Melbourne had some of the highest occupancy of any city in the world,” Mr Perry said.

Mr Mansfield said Australia needed to find a way to keep state borders open while international travel was ruled out.

Mr Long said the industry’s No. 1 request was for the government to stop naming outbreaks after hotels unless there was a public benefit to do so.

“The industry is extremely frustrated that it still occurs and there hasn’t been a change in policy.”

There had been reluctance from guests to book into former quarantine hotels, but Mr Long said that usually faded over time.

Melbourne’s Marriott was among the hotels to pull out of the quarantine program because of concern it was hurting the hotel’s reputation.

The City of Melbourne has been trying to bolster the CBD, including by encouraging hotel stays. The FOMO promotion generated $206,000 in revenue for 10 participating hotels, granting two nights for the price of one. Half of the 1094 bookings were from interstate or regional visitors.

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“Melbourne’s hotels have faced the toughest trading conditions in decades, which is why we need to become the most vaccinated city in Australia so we can move beyond lockdowns and restrictions,” lord mayor Sally Capp said.

The state government also supported a travel voucher scheme, handing out $200 rebates for 40,000 people who had two nights away from home in Melbourne.

The industry wants the state and the city council to invest in events and encourage people to return to Melbourne.

Quarantine requirements are expected to remain for the next two to three years, according to the Victorian government’s review into alternative accommodation options, with hotels involved even once the proposed Mickleham quarantine site is built.

Next Wednesday, Victoria will halve its quarantine intake to 500 people a week.

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