North Coast tourism boom drives record pub sales

The iconic Port Macquarie Hotel has been sold to an established hotelier for $57 million, a record sale price for the Mid North Coast.

The pub has been the focal point for the Port Macquarie community for more than 80 years and has been sold after 11 years of ownership by HTL Property on behalf of the Taphouse Group.

The North Coast has been the epicentre of a domestic tourism boom and sea-change movement during the pandemic.

The results of the National Visitor Survey 2022 for the year to March 2022, released this week, show the NSW North Coast was the nation’s most visited regional destination for domestic overnight visitors after Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the results were particularly positive for regional NSW.

“The last two years have been challenging for businesses in the visitor economy but they have also inspired more Australians to see their own backyard, with NSW the preferred destination of choice due to its unique and diverse tourism offering,” Ayres said.

“The NSW North Coast was the nation’s most visited destination for domestic overnight visitors after Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with regional NSW accounting for 31% of domestic overnight visitors in regional Australia.

“Strategic investments by the NSW Government with local councils and the private sector in visitor infrastructure, transport and destination marketing mean regional NSW is now poised to attract new international visitor segments and a greater share of traditional markets.”

“Interest in our public EOI process last month drew activity from a national investor landscape and highlighted the magnetism of multi-revenue faceted hotels in key geographical centres along Australia’s East Coast,” said HTL Property Director Sam Handy.

The imposing Art Deco property adorns two commanding levels, comprising 2,878sqm of super-prime commercial property holding across multiple street fronts; and promotes bar, gaming, drive-thru retail liquor, restaurant and accommodation revenue streams.

“The materiality of the sale of this nationally recognised hospitality business speaks to both the market confidence and patent quality of offering,” said HTL Property Managing Director, Andrew Jolliffe.

“As a firm we are separately marketing the outstanding Tacking Point Tavern in Port Macquarie, and can confirm negotiations with interested parties remain both ongoing and prosperous,” said HTL Property National Director Dan Dragicevich.”

There has been huge interest in the region from major pub groups. The Laundy Hotel Group snapped up the Mercure Centro Hotel in Port Macquarie earlier this year for a reported $25 million as it looks to expand its North Coast portfolio.

The 4.5 star corporate hotel, located in Port Macquarie’s commercial, retail and entertainment precinct, was sold off market by HLF Pty Ltd through HTL Property.

The Laundys have been active on the NSW North Coast over the past year, purchasing the Lennox Hotel at Lennox Head for more than $40 million and the Illawong Hotel at Evans Head for $15 million.

“Anything north we’ll look at,” Laundy Hotel Group CEO Stu Laundy told The Australian Financial Review. “We’ll leave the [NSW] South Coast to Justin [Hemmes]. We think the North Coast is sensational.”

Among the other high-profile sales in the region in the past two years have been the Hotel Brunswick in Brunswick Heads, which was cquired for $68 million by MAHF, the hotel subsidiary of ASX-listed fund manager MA Financial, run by Redcape Hotel Group’s Dan Brady.

In Byron Bay, Byron’s Beach Hotel was purchased by MAHF for $100 million, while the Great Northern Hotel went for $80 million, and Cheeky Monkey’s bar was acquired by Merivale for $13 million. The nearby Lennox Hotel in Lennox Head also changed hands for $40 million.

The National Visitor Survey for the March quarter 2022 also showed how domestic visitor expenditure is booming.

The continued easing of border restrictions, health regulations and lockdowns saw improvements in domestic tourism. Domestic overnight trips increased by 1% to 24.6 million, while spend increased by 14% or $2.6 billion to $20.1 billion.

Spend recovery was driven by an increase in spend on:

Accommodation ─ up 33% or $1.6 billion

Eating out ─ up 23% or $686 million

Petrol ─ up 21% or $396 million

Shopping ─ up 22% or $270 million

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Categories: Property