Staff shortage hinders tourism recovery from virus

“Personnel is our biggest problem,” he said.

“Last month we started to see more working holidaymakers coming to the region, but we are still very understaffed and the gaps are mostly related to trained staff like chefs and housekeeping staff.”

Another problem, Mr Baker said, is that, especially in North Queensland, its two largest pre-pandemic origin markets – China and Japan – are still heavily constrained.

China’s National Immigration Administration said last month it would “severely restrict non-essential departures of Chinese citizens” as the country tried to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks in Shanghai and Beijing. Meanwhile, Japan is only in the early stages of opening itself up to travel in and out.

Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) Chairman Evan Hall said he expects the international tourism business to recover faster from September and October.

Visa problems hinder tourism

Mr Hall said the sector was facing a number of capacity constraints that were “deeply disappointing after two years on its knees” such as labor shortages and lengthy delays in approving traveler visas.

“We hear of many tourists failing to process their visas on time and canceling their trips as a result. Just like you see backlogs in passport applications and queues there, it’s the same with visas,” he said.

Mr Hall wanted the new Labor government to devote the same level of resources to the visa processing problem as it did to the passport problem.

Assistant Foreign Secretary Tim Watts on Wednesday promised to set up a 70-staff call center and bring on 250 more to help resolve passport issues in the coming weeks.

The ATIC Chairman added that more money should be invested in tourism in Australia to attract working holidaymakers such as tourists and reduce labor shortages.

“We are in a highly competitive market. Tourists are in demand all over the world,” Mr. Hall said.

Experience Co head John O’Sullivan said his overseas visitor-focused businesses on the Great Barrier Reef were operating at about 80% before the virus activity, with labor shortages hindering further growth.

Mr O’Sullivan agreed with Mr Hall that Australia should proudly compete for working holidaymakers and tourists to fill the gap, and said Labor should increase Australia’s tourism funding to help this.

“The Morrison Government has committed an additional $32 million to tourism in Australia and from our perspective we would like the Albanes Government to continue this activity,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“We will not be the only country trying to attract working holidaymakers or high-value tourists to our country. The more resources Australia’s tourism has, the better it will work.”

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