Moteliers Carol and Peter Dregmans have experienced first-hand the onshore gas industry boom managing motels in Roma and more recently Dalby, but despite the slowdown as the industry shifts from construction to production they have their sights firmly on the long term.
In this latest business insights article, Carol and Peter share their story with the GasFields Commission and how they are approaching the current gas industry transition underway in the Surat Basin.
Carol says she has been surprised by the rapid decline in gas industry workers over the past 18 months, in particular as the major onshore gas projects transition from construction to the longer term production phase.
"Most motels in Dalby have gone from around 80 to 90 percent occupancy per night down to about 50 to 60 percent, but I am aware of some motels with even lower occupancy rates."
She says it's largely a case of supply and demand.
While demand for accommodation has shrunk with the reduction in the number of gas industry related workers, at the same time Dalby has grown its supply with an additional three motels built over the past four years or so.
"Dalby now has a total of 11 motels and about 80-90 additional beds than existed before the gas industry arrived" she says.
Worker camps impact
In addition, the Dregmans also feel that worker camps have added to the accommodation supply pressures.
Peter says these workers camps were created to meet the huge demand during the busy construction phase, however, those still in operation and located close to major centres like Dalby are now impacting on local moteliers.
"It appears that some remaining camps are directly competing for the town's general accommodation business as the number of resource industry workers have declined," he says.
The Dregmans joined other moteliers at a recent meeting in Dalby with local Council representatives to highlight their concerns and discuss options.
Ag market still critical
Carol says the agriculture sector has always been critical to Dalby's motel business.
"Fortunately, after a long dry spell, rainfalls since January this year have helped to kick start the agricultural sector with chemical, machinery and other reps back visiting the Dalby region.
"Together with our other existing range of business and other corporate reps we are hopeful of a steady year for the remainder of 2015," she says.
Gas industry provides another layer to local economy
Despite the challenges for moteliers, Carol and Peter still believe there are long term opportunities with the onshore gas industry which they say adds yet another layer of business activity to the local economy in Dalby.
"People still have to come out here to operate and maintain all this gas infrastructure that has been built and there will be people who will be needed to support them as well", Carol says.
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