Five of the country's largest hotel chains have rescinded their membership with Tourism Industry Aotearoa in favour of a new hotel council dedicated solely to servicing the industry's needs.
Scenic Hotel Group, Heritage Hotels, CP Group, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand and Event Hospitality and Entertainment have withdrawn the majority of their properties from Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
They are the hotel chains that made up the founding board of the New Zealand Hotel Owners' Association and will join the new Hotel Council Aotearoa.
The association's executive director, Amy Robens, said the departure from Tourism Industry Aotearoa came because of the need for an "all-inclusive organisation dedicated solely to helping ensure our sector's survival both now and into the future".
"TIA supports the tourism industry as the umbrella organisation for the industry but most tourism sub-sectors have their own body such as the Tourism Export Council and Holiday Parks Association.
"Hotel Council Aotearoa will focus all of its attention on hotels and hoteliers not campervans, campsites, pubs, restaurants or non-hotel tourist attractions and activities."
Robens said the council would represent the whole hotel sector, from owners and developers to operators, general managers and consultants.
When asked what she hoped to achieve with the new council, Robens said strong leadership and engagement within the sector would be crucial.
"Hotel voices must be heard if we are to take on the challenge of driving for positive change.
"Our principal purpose is to advocate for the best interests of hotels and hoteliers and explain the unique characteristics and challenges of our sector as we influence both central and local government policy decision making.
"Hotel Council Aotearoa will be the forum for hoteliers to effectively respond to economic and regulatory changes affecting our industry."
Some of the key issues Robens highlighted were safeguarding the sustainability of the sector, advocating for fair and equitable tourism infrastructure funding options and creating a level playing field with alternative accommodation providers, such as Airbnb.
She said lobbying against the introduction of targeted rates and proposed bed taxes and protecting the industry's future workforce were also paramount.
"Hotels play a fundamental role in attracting and increasing international visitor spend. We are the backbone of tourism and need to survive to attract tourists, especially high net worth visitors, when they return.
"At its peak the hotel sector employed 20,000 people, now that number has more than halved and looks to decline further. We need to ensure we attract the right skills and retain our crucial human capital."
Robens said the hotel sector had evolved markedly over the past decade and the new council would provide the expertise to "deep dive into the issues that really matter for Kiwi hotels and hoteliers, our one and only focus".
"There will be instances where our interests will align with TIA and other industry bodies and we will work closely together when that occurs."
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said the organisation continued to support and represent the hotel sector.
"We have worked constructively with the New Zealand Hotel Owners' Association since it was formed, but are of course disappointed that some of the owners have decided to withdraw some hotels from TIA.
"There is certainly a place for an owners' group, but we are much stronger as a tourism industry when we can present a united voice."
Roberts said there were many other sector-specific associations that had long-standing relationships with TIA and the organisation would seek a similar relationship with the new hotel council.