ACT hotels are trying to entice Canberrans to take a "staycation" in the capital to help fill rooms and ensure staff remain employed as the latest COVID-19 outbreaks decimate the region's tourism industry.
The lack of visitors to Canberra is set to be exacerbated in the coming weeks when fewer politicians, staff and lobbyists return for the sitting weeks at Parliament House.
Australian Hotels Association ACT branch general manager Anthony Brierley said hotels were in the worst state since the first lockdown in April 2020.
"The hotel industry is being hammered at the moment," he said.
"I don't expect we'll see any of the lobbyists or advocates or usual circus during parliament."
ACT hotels are not eligible for any Commonwealth financial assistance because the territory has not been declared a COVID-19 hot spot.
The ACT government has received 57 expressions of interest for its accommodation and tourism venue operator support program and small tourism operator COVID recovery payment, which offers rebates of up to $75,000 for businesses that can demonstrate a 30 per cent loss of revenue in July 2021 compared to April 2021.
"The ACT government has been calling for specific, ongoing support for the sector from the Commonwealth throughout the pandemic," an ACT government spokeswoman said.
Mr Brierley said hotels were cutting shifts of casual staff and considering redundancies or even closing their operations indefinitely.
"The Commonwealth is prepared to put these workers into poverty," he said.
"There's not justification why employees in our industry shouldn't have access to the COVID-19 disaster payment."
Doma Hotels director Patrick Lonergan said business was down 60 per cent since the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.
"Our biggest trade partner for the ACT has effectively been turned off," Mr Lonergan said.
"Now that we've got space available, we are selling lots to Canberrans."
Emma Hynes Regional General Manager TFE Hotels for ACT and Regional NSW said the company's six Canberra hotels were running below 10 per cent occupancy, compared to the usual occupancy rate of 80 to 90 per cent.
Visitors were starting to return to Canberra in May and June but that all changed when other states plunged back into lockdown. Ms Hynes said Canberra hotels had the same hit to occupancy rates as their NSW hotels but they weren't eligible for government support packages.
"We're really encouraging Canberrans to to look at staycations and really try and support the accommodation industry while we go through this really tough time with no job keeper," Ms Hynes said.
"The next two to six weeks will be really crucial for our hotels across all of Canberra."
Canberra Staycation ideas
Ms Hynes said since many people were back working from home or had to cancel interstate trips, it was a great time to book a staycation.
"If you're working at home all day and you do want to feel like you're getting away for the weekend or just having a nice night away from from the kids or just a night out where don't have to cook and do the dishes or make your bed, that's where we can come into it and do all those things for you," she said.
TFE Hotels has extended the opening special at the new A by Adina hotel on Constitution Avenue, which includes a 15 per cent discount, complimentary chocolates, wine and 1pm late checkout.
Vibe hotel Canberra and Adina Canberra Dickson and James Court offer a stay three, pay two deal while the Hotel Kurrajong is offering a Canberra Escapes package with 15 per cent discount, breakfast, Wi-Fi and late check out for direct bookings.
Mr Lonergan said Doma Hotels are offering discounts, such as a staycation package at The Little National from $189, "but it's not a race to the bottom".
The Midnight Hotel in Braddon is offering a midwinter break package until the end of August, which including drinks for two in the Midnight Bar or delivered to you room, breakfast for two at Braddon Merchant, free in-room minibar and late midday checkout.
Ovolo Nishi will help locals build their ideal city escape in collaboration with local businesses with the staycay your way program. A 25 per cent discount applies if you stay two or more nights at Ovolo Nishi or Nishi Apartments, plus you can invite two friends to join you for a bottle of wine or social hour drinks and snacks under the friends with benefits offer.
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