Neon vacancy sign for motel.
Neon vacancy sign for motel.

‘Cancellations until August’: Roma motels hit hard by coronavirus

THE Roma Inland Motor Inn was all but booked out until the middle of 2020, thanks to the plethora of major events.

But coronavirus has changed everything, and most travellers have cancelled their scheduled stays for race meets, Easter in the Country, or leisurely holidays to the southwest, while other regions have blatantly told tourists to stay away.

Now the motel is surviving on the few remaining guests, and acting manager Kate Johnson is concerned not just for the Inland, but all of Roma's businesses in tourism and hospitality.

"Our cancellations are currently in the hundreds," she said.

"We were originally full for both Easter in the Country and the Picnic Races, plus our corporate bookings … we have had cancellations up to July and August.

"Everyone is incredibly worried, because we don't know from one day to the next if we can operate."

As is the case for many other businesses around town, the motel's full staff of five has become a skeleton crew while the pandemic hurts guest numbers.

Ms Johnson said their cancellations were growing by the day, and it has a ripple effect to other businesses in Roma.

"It is challenging for the whole town - places like the White Bull Tavern and The Irish (Queen's Arms Hotel) have closed, and I know the Royal on 99 is grateful for what business they can get," she said.

"The bakery has had to put off some of their staff; my daughter works there, and the juniors are having to be put off because the senior staff are in need of work.

"At least it is only pocket money for the kids, but she said to me last night her boss is getting worried because they have had to close one of the biggest parts of their business."

In a bid to support all the businesses doing it tough, Ms Johnson is making sure the Inland's remaining guests are still spending in town.

She said some companies are still sending their essential staff to Roma, and in time like these, making sure they buy local is key.

" Everybody has got to work together; I had a phone call from a company the other night, asking me what is still open, and what their workmen can do about meals" she said.

"I'm now organising for us to get together with places like the bakery, or Cafe 54 - anywhere that is cooking meals - and push these guests to buy lunches from these food businesses, or have it delivered, because it is what they are set up to do.

"We could do it ourselves, but we have all of these places just down the road who could close if I don't push some business their way.

"If everyone thinks outside the box and starts working together as a community, we will survive on what we can get."

Many pubs and cafes in town are adapting to offer delivery. Check out The Western Star's full list HERE.

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