Further inspirational examples of the hospitality response to the COVID-19 crisis.

In late April, Equality in Tourism reported on the positive ways in which the hard-hit hospitality industry has stepped in to provide beds for those in need. In this article, our Associate Professor Shirley Randell shares information on similar initiatives in Australia.

In Australia, many hotels had moved from 80 per cent occupancy rates to ‘single digit occupancies’ as a result of travel bans and other lockdown measures that are severely affecting the tourism industry. Some of these hotels have now transformed from providing a luxury service to a piece of crucial infrastructure.

Australia’s largest hotel chain is sheltering people fleeing domestic violence as front-line workers say incidents of household abuse are on the rise as a result of the pressures caused by the COVID-19 crisis. International hotel group Accor, owning brands like Ibis, Sofitel and Swissotel, is housing vulnerable people, including victims of family violence, the homeless, and worn-out medical workers in need of alternative accommodation, in its Sydney rooms as well as other beds throughout New South Wales. The group is one of many accommodation providers now in discussions with various welfare groups and state governments to address social and economic issues caused by COVID-19.

Chief operating officer of Accor in Australia, Simon McGrath, said that while the tourism and hospitality industry had been decimated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, using empty rooms to protect those in need had been a valuable way to redeploy the group’s abundant resources.

“Our doors are open,” Mr McGrath told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We have accommodation assets that can help people in times of need, and while the industry’s been devastated commercially, it doesn’t mean we can’t help.”

Professor Shirley Randell AO, Associate, Equality in Tourism

It is truly uplifting to read about these kinds of non-profit-driven responses to social problems arising from this crisis at a time when the commercial future of the industry itself hangs in the balance.