Hotels and motels in Orange are continuing to feel the pinch as the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak extends beyond the school holiday period, but incoming support packages look likely to help alleviate some pressure.
Along with a package to assist struggling businesses and workers announced on Tuesday, the NSW Government confirmed it will introduce another support package targeted at the state's accommodation sector.
Eligible accommodation premises which lost room nights between June 25 and July 11 will be able to apply for grants up to $5,000 under the scheme, to help offset plummeting occupancy rates observed in the last month.
After restrictions came into regional areas ... you could see those forward bookings beginning to drop away.West End Motor Lodge manager Paul Keevil
West End Motor Lodge manager Paul Keevil and The Oriana general manager Kelly Ferguson both explained they are in the process of determining what they may be eligible for, feeling the impact of restrictions first-hand.
"After restrictions came into regional areas on the Saturday (June 26), you could see those forward bookings beginning to drop away straight away, it's been pretty slow since," Mr Keevil said.
"We didn't really see any tourists during those weeks but we were lucky to have people staying with us during a shutdown at the mine, so we probably weren't as heavily impacted as others in the area.
"I think the next couple of weeks will actually be the toughest for us, it is looking pretty skinny at the moment. We're still working through what we might be entitled to under the new package."
Ms Ferguson explained The Oriana's occupancy rate has dropped from full-capacity to just 20 per cent which has had a huge impact on staff and events, with the venue's weekly Winter in the Gardens events put on hold until August.
"Our accountant is looking into the [accommodation support package] so we're not quite sure whether that package will help us at all," she said.
"However the COVID support package for staff that are losing hours, which is coming into play on Sunday for us - that's been a very big relief.
"A lot of our staff have lost hours (and) they'll be able to apply for that support. At the moment, it's sad not being able to give them hours. Going from full-capacity to 20 per cent overnight, it's a big thing."
The new, $26 million accommodation support initiative will be implemented in two tiers.
Accommodation premises which have had a cancellation of 10 room nights or less will be eligible for a grant of $2,000. Those which have had a cancellation of 11 room nights or more will be eligible for a $5,000 grant.
Where an owner or operator owns multiple accommodation premises identifiable by different street addresses, each of those will be eligible to receive separate grants.
"It is heartbreaking that this recent outbreak of COVID-19 occurred right on the cusp of the winter school holidays. The sector has reported a dramatic decline in occupancy rates," Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism Stuart Ayres said.
"This program is for all eligible accommodation premises across NSW, as the current restrictions not only affect greater Sydney operators but also those in regional NSW who lost their main source market from metropolitan Sydney or interstate."
"It is up to all of us to stop the spread of the virus so we can get back to travelling and enjoying our state's experiences and attractions as soon as possible, which is what businesses really need."
Accommodation providers are also eligible to apply for the business grant and support program too, with details of all initiatives and how to apply available on the Service NSW website.
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