New openings propel Australia's hotel sector

Citadines Walker North Sydney
The Citadines Walker North Sydney will be the tallest tower in North Sydney upon its completion in 2021. Photo credit: Ascott Ltd.

Hotel openings in November pushed Australia’s inventory to 5,600 properties with 300,229 open guestrooms, according to the latest data from STR’s AM:PM platform. 

Australia ranks 12th in the world in total room count and fourth among countries in the Asia-Pacific region. “Australia has been on a progressive development path since 2016 with more than 26,000 rooms added to the marketplace,” said Matthew Burke, STR’s regional manager – Pacific. “That is not counting the more than 5,000 rooms that were closed during that period and converted for alternative commercial usage. This uptick in investment reflects the country’s strong performance, especially in major markets. As a whole, Australia’s occupancy has been at or near 75 percent for each of the last five years, and average daily rate has consistently ranged around 185 Australian dollars.”

The 10 largest STR-defined markets in Australia represent 57.1 percent of all rooms in the country, led by Sydney with 43,841 rooms. While each hotel class is well-represented in the country’s overall numbers, the largest percentage of rooms are in the upscale (24.2 percent) and midscale (23.6 percent) segments. The upscale class has seen the largest influx of new supply with 10,931 rooms opened since 2015.

Among branded inventory, Accor represents the largest market share with 32.1 percent of rooms. The Ascott Limited is a distant second at 7.6 percent. 

Looking Ahead

Australia’s pipeline has 94 hotels and 18,294 rooms under construction as well as 216 projects and 36,005 rooms in the two planning phases of the pipeline.

“Australia is not likely to hit its construction peak until next year, and we don’t expect a substantial slowing in development anytime over the next several years,” Burke said. “Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide are projected to see the largest increase based on their existing room counts, and the two highest-tiered segments (luxury and upscale) will combine to welcome 35 percent of the new rooms in the pipeline.

Australia Hotel Development Path

“As we have seen in the data this past year, all of this new supply has put some pressure on occupancy levels, and subsequently, hotelier pricing confidence. Moving forward we anticipate demand growth in almost all markets, but with sustained supply increases, we’re still forecasting occupancy declines in the short term. Room rates will of course be weighed by the additional competition in the market, but that is not likely to become a long-term trend as many markets trade at high absolute occupancy levels with the ability to absorb new supply.” 

STR defines a traditional hotel on three criteria: 1) generates revenue on a nightly per-room basis, 2) has 10 or more rooms and 3) is open to the public (excludes those properties requiring membership, affiliation or club status).