TASMANIAN accommodation and car rental businesses are experiencing their annual peak but winter will more than likely leave them struggling unless something is done to encourage more all-season visitors.

Motel occupancy rates across Tasmania last month are expected to show a slight decline when figures are collated this month, while all hire cars have been booked out in the state.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association and Tourism Accommodation Australia-Tasmania chief executive Steve Old said businesses were expecting the decline at this usual peak period in light of general economic hardship around the country.

“Figures will probably be slightly down on previous years but I don’t think it will be down much more than 1 per cent,” Mr Old said.

“If it was down about 5 per cent then that would be a worry.”

He said in the South of the state businesses could expect strong occupancy rates on average between 80 to 85 per cent for December and into mid-January, while in Launceston, it might be around 70 to 75 per cent and in the North-West about 65 per cent.

Yet Mr Old said the real problem for businesses was not the decline in summer but getting those figures up in winter.

He said businesses were caught trying to handle a one or two-month busy period and then trying to get bed occupancy up for the remainder of the year.

This had repercussions on the number of staff, their training, hours worked and whether they opened all aspects of the facility such as a restaurant, he said. A Launceston Backpackers spokeswoman said it had been busy from mid-November, first with school groups and then holidayers.

She said at the moment the budget accommodation was at 98 per cent occupancy and had been around this level for the past week.

However, during the cooler months there would be “a total decline”.

“The government really needs to push and support events coming here instead of giving money to things that are dead,” she said.

Full hire car bookings in the state are common in the busy post Christmas-New Year holiday period.

AutoRent Hertz marketing and operations manager Andrew Lovitt said in his 25 years in the business, this time of year always saw a shortage of hire cars.


Events happening in the North:

– Music in the Park, every Sunday in January.

– Australian Whitewater Championships, January 3 to 11.

– Wild Dayz, January 3 to 14.

– Tamar Valley Beer Festival, January 20 and 21.

– FFA Melbourne Victory FC V Gold Coast United FC, February 1.

– Australian Pro Tennis Women’s Pro Tour, February 6 to 12.

– Festivale, February 10 to 12.

– Cradle Coast Rally Challenge, February 25.

– TSO Symphony Under the Stars, February 25.

– AAMI Launceston Cup Day, February 29.

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