Travel ban a big blow to motels

Ashton Motel leaseholders Marc Barba and Jessica Taylor are among the Tumut accommodation providers hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ashton Motel leaseholders Marc Barba and Jessica Taylor probably didn’t pick the best possible time to get into the motel industry.

Theirs is one of so many businesses in Tumut and around the world rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The couple were living in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, where Marc ran an electric motor business and Jessica worked in retail before taking on the lease and moving to Tumut in November last year.

“We had family who worked in the same industry and they encouraged us to give it a go,” Jessica said.

Up until this crisis it had been going well, but like other accommodation providers, they have taken a severe hit, especially by the non-essential travel ban.

They haven’t been ordered to close, but things aren’t good.

“We’ve had a huge amount of cancellations,” Jessica said.

“In just one day we had 36 and we’ve had over 70 (in total).”

“And that doesn’t include the bookings that we potentially could have got,” Mark said.   

Jessica said the motel had a very big financial issue.

“We’ve got to pay our rent, which is huge in this industry,” she said.

“It’s going to be very hard.”

The motel hires cleaners, but the crisis means there is less for them to do.

“We are trying to find extra things for them to do to give them the extra hours,” Jessica said.

The fact that Marc and Jessica are only starting out in the motel business makes things even more difficult.

“Being new in the industry we haven’t got backing that people who have been in it for years have,” Jessica said.

“We are still trying to build our business.”

The couple realise they are far from alone in their predicament and are keeping their chins up.

“We just have to sit tight and stay positive until things change,” Marc said.

Tumut’s Amaroo Motel has also had a big number of cancellations, especially among its bus tour groups. Management fears there will be a lot more.