Return To Pre-Covid Levels Unlikely Before 2023

STR does not expect a return to pre-COVID demand levels in most markets until 2023


Key Points:

  • Occupancy rates until September are running below 20%

  • Forward occupancy data showed destinations a short drive from Sydney outperformed the Sydney market

  • STR expected demand to recover to about 60-80% of 2019 levels over the next six to 12 months


According to bookings tracked by STR, Occupancy rates until September are running below 20% in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Darwin.


STR does not expect a return to pre-COVID demand levels in most markets until 2023.


"As of 15 June, when looking at the next 90 days (through 7 September), there is still very little forward occupancy across the four capital cities and the Sydney surrounding area," said STR.


"Among the four capital cities [Sydney Melbourne, Adelaide and Darwin], forward occupancy sits below 20% in all markets except Darwin, which shows occupancy above 20% between 27 July and 10 August."


Prior to the pandemic, Sydney and Melbourne were averaging 70 to 80% occupancy.


"The outlook for occupancy is between 10 and 30% for most days [between now and September]," said STR regional Pacific manager Matthew Burke,


Mr Burke said, hotels no longer had access to bookings that came from meetings and conventions, while corporate travel remained "very subdued".


"You're not getting international tourism and domestic travel is largely concentrated on the weekends. People usually travel domestically to attend an event, but those are still quite limited," he said.


Reflecting the domestic nature of travel, STR forward occupancy data showed destinations a short drive from Sydney, including the Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Newcastle, outperformed the Sydney market over the school holidays with forward occupancy between June 29 and July 13 above 25%.


In June, Melbourne registered its first month of occupancy above 30% and RevPAR above $40 since the start of the pandemic in March.


However, STR said Melbourne's July performance was likely to be "negatively" affected due to the reinstatement of stage three stay-at-home restrictions which will last until the middle of next month.


"When looking at monthly forward occupancy for Melbourne and Sydney, the metric sits below 30% for the next 12 months. October and November show slightly higher occupancy than the other months but is still relatively low," said STR.


Although STR expected demand to recover to about 60-80% of 2019 levels over the next six to 12 months, it did not expect demand to recover to 2019 levels in most markets until 2023.

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