Tourism industry facing staff shortages


Business leaders in the tourism sector are demanding an immediate visa solution to ease the staffing crisis that's threatening to bring the industry to a standstill during its busiest time of the year.

With local companies crumbling under the pressure of peak period demand, industry leaders are demanding that new working holiday maker visa rules, aimed at tackling staff shortages in Northern Australia, should also be extended to Australia's southern states and in particular Tasmania who are experiencing significant staff shortages in the hospitality sector.

Under new rules, introduced as part of the Federal Government scheme, working holiday maker visa holders in Australia's Northern Territories can work for longer periods with one employer and can count working in hospitality jobs towards being able to extend their working holiday for a second year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) said "Its too early to establish how effective the new rules have been in Northern Australia, however, extending the working holiday maker visa program may be something that we will have to consider". Under current DIBP working holiday maker rules you can only work for one employer for a maximum of 6 months. Extending a working holiday visa for a second year is usually only possible if you have worked for for 3 months in regional Australia in a particular area of work such as plant and animal cultivation, mining, construction, fishing and pearling or tree farming or felling.

In Tasmania, working holiday maker visa holders are only permitted to remain with one employer for a maximum of 6 months but desperately needs hospitality workers to be able to work longer for employers with the option of extending their working holiday visas into a second year. It is widely believed that a new working holiday maker visa scheme could potentially lead to 25,000 more backpackers entering the state every year and the more holiday makers with jobs, means more tourism dollars for the state.

Industry commentators have described the current labour shortages as the "worst they have encountered" and they expect the problem will only get worse unless changes can be introduced as a matter of urgency. They estimate that by 2020, 8,000 vacancies will need to be filled as visitor numbers continue to grow.

The tourism industry also wants to see an overhaul of the process for sponsored 457 visas. They want to see the process streamlined and reforms introduced to make it easier for recruitment agencies to place workers in the tourism sector.


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