Have we been taking the hospitality sector for granted?

22 April, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

Tom Gleeson, Vice President – Investment Sales of JLL Hotels & Hospitality discusses in an open letter to the industry how COVID-19 has made him appreciate the hospitality sector even more.

As COVID-19 continues to change our day-to-day lives and ripples down through all parts of the Australian economy I find myself asking: have we been taking the hospitality industry for granted?

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The economic ramifications are significant for workers and business owners alike, all of whom are trying to navigate what the next few months will look like, but I am speaking of the social impacts the recent closures of hospitality venues have had.

I could be accused by some of being biased since the hospitality sector pays my bills, but well before I started my role with JLL Hotels & Hospitality, the wider hospitality industry played an enormous role in my life and the forming of it. Whether it be sitting in the public bar as a young fella drinking pink lemonade and eating Twisties with the old man, celebrating a first birthday or listening to drawn-out best man speeches at a mate’s wedding, hospitality has been the epicentre of all these experiences and made my life a richer one.

Yes, pubs, restaurant, clubs, function venues, resorts and hotels all have a financial business case to perform to and assist greatly in driving this country’s tourism sector, however these places are also critical in creating community and providing identity. The small bar scene of Melbourne, the beautiful vineyards of Adelaide, the harbour bars and restaurants of Sydney and the relaxed beer gardens of Brisbane all evoke a visceral reaction, add to the essence of those places and are often etched into the minds of visitors for years to come.

As Australians we yearn for social interaction –– we are a nation that comes to standstill for a horse race, a nation with a day put aside for a music countdown, a nation who’s ex-Prime Minister sculled schooners to the cheers of a full stadium – it’s in our DNA.

My hope is when we get through this challenging period, our memories don’t fade too quickly and we show support to the wonderful hospitality businesses we all know. Not only for the nation’s economic recovery, but because it will be a catalyst to reconnect with that lifestyle and outlook that our country is known for — one that is envied around the world.