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WYD Not So Bad for Sydney Hotels

By Ian Neubauer

Predictions that Sydney’s accommodation sector would lose money hand over fist during World Youth Day (WYD) festivities failed to eventuate, with the city’s hotels reporting 77 per cent occupancy for the week ending July 20.

Spicenews reported on July 11 that hotels in Sydney were grappling with 26,730 room cancellations as the 50,000-strong pilgrim market cast aside paid accommodation for free or cheap accommodation provided by Christian groups.

The Australian Hotel Association (AHA) described WYD as a double whammy as business travellers were avoiding Sydney because of road closures and overstretched amenities.

But both occupancy level and room rates improved during the event, with the AHA now clarifying cancellations stemmed from the falling through of several ‘block bookings’.

“It’s a pleasant surprise, given fears that corporate demand would suffer during the week as a result of government warnings about disruption to the CBD,” Horwarth HTL managing director told The Australian Financial Review.

He said the four-star and mid-market hotels had benefit most during the event, with five-star properties reporting lower than average occupancies.