The hotel industry is putting a brave face to the tough economic conditions facing tourism as its looks for opportunities to cope with falling visitor numbers and the impact of the global recession.

More than 250 hoteliers, owners, developers and bankers are expected to attend the industry's annual conference today which will look at "opportunities in challenging times".

Hotel council chairman Jennie Langley said the event had attracted more people than previous years as industry players sought to find solutions to the difficult times.

Langley said the industry's biggest single concern was the state of the economy which was putting pressure on revenue as demand fell.

"We know the short-term outlook for many hotels is tough but they cannot lose sight of the eventual economic recovery by continuing to deliver quality product, retaining skilled staff and investing in refurbishments and developments."

Langley said the market was becoming more focused on domestic and Australian visitors where numbers remained strong.

New Zealanders accounted for more than 49 per cent of hotel rooms booked nationwide last year while Australians were the next biggest nationality at 17 per cent.

The industry also needed to adapt to fewer group bookings from international visitors, she said.

"A number of hoteliers have already said 'the market is changing, we have got to lift our game'."

Langley said the conference would look at ways for the hotel industry to work more closely with the airline industry and train new people leading up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Terry Ngan, director of hotel consultants Horwarth, who is organising the event with the hotel council, said the downward trend of visitors was obviously a challenge.

"We are trying to be positive by providing ideas to help managers find opportunities and solutions."

But he said the industry should also face up to tough decisions such as staff cutbacks if that was required.

The hotel industry employs more than 9000 full and part-time staff in New Zealand and last year generated more than $880 million in revenue.

Auckland had the highest occupancy rate. Wellington had the highest average room rate at $147 a night.