New AHA National President David Canny outlines the association’s current focus under his leadership.

It goes without saying that to be elected unopposed as national president of the Australian Hotels Association – taking over from Scott Leach, who stood down after five years in the top job – is a great honour.

And, for me, personally, to follow closely in the footsteps of that great friend, publican and fellow Victorian the late Peter Burnett, AM – who served three terms as national president – makes it an even greater honour.

The hotel industry really is a family; we pull together when times are tough. Never has that been more obvious than in the last few years when we have been at the economic front-line in the battle against covid.

I don’t have to tell you our pubs were among the first to close and the last to re-open and our industry was decimated. But we worked together, states and territories alike, under the tireless leadership of Scott Leach – who has stood down after an unprecedented five years in the top role.

Scott mentioned in the previous edition of Australian Hotelier that he felt he had “steered our industry through the storm and it is time to go below deck and have a drink.”

I agree with that sentiment. A drink well-earned – and I’m tipping it may be more than one. I would like to thank Scott for his leadership through an incredibly difficult period.

Scott personally made a significant contribution to the hospitality industry as national president, he challenged us all to collectively push for better outcomes at all levels which would ultimately benefit all members and the broader hospitality industry.

The work ahead

There’s no doubt I take the helm at a challenging time. As we look to accelerate our recovery out of the pandemic, current economic conditions in the broader marketplace are difficult to say the least.  Hoteliers are continuing to experience chronic skill and labour shortages which are also contributing to supply-chain issues.

A major focus will be to seek out initiatives that create opportunities for training and attracting people to the sector, highlighting the career possibilities available to them in the hospitality industry. This should include promoting hospitality as an inviting workplace to a broader range of people in our communities, as well as implementing high-value skilled migration strategies.

We will also continue to work with governments at all levels, regulators and our corporate partners in reducing the costs of doing business, which includes utilities and insurance. Reducing these costs can ensure pubs and hotels continue to be exciting, vibrant and viable businesses.

And, just as importantly, we will continue to collaborate with governments to advance Australia as a world-class tourism and event destination.

Combining these efforts will create confidence in the hospitality sector, which in turn will encourage investment in pubs and hotels, and the dynamic workforce we foster.

The AHA National Board and I remain committed to an economic and social environment that stimulates the vibrant hospitality industry and pub culture Australia is known for. Our industry is nothing but resilient and we look forward to brighter days ahead in 2023.

I wish you great trade and a prosperous holiday period.

This column was first published in the December 2022 issue of Australian Hotelier, which you can view below.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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