News In BriefTourism

Backpacker shortage devastating to WA Regional Tourism

Tourism Council WA is calling on the Federal Government to extend visas for all backpackers remaining in WA. Backpackers are essential to regional tourism businesses in WA, a state more reliant on this workforce than any other.

Normally there are around 14,000 backpackers in the State. Tourism Council WA estimates there are around 5,000 – 6,000 backpackers remaining; however they are leaving at a rate of around 1,000 – 2,000 per month.

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said: “A 12-month visa extension would allow backpackers to continue to work in tourism businesses through the Christmas period and into the 2021 season in the North West,”

“Backpackers are leaving Western Australia as their visas expire, or to travel to open States such as South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. This is all one-way traffic. There is a concern that by the busy summer holidays, there won’t be enough backpackers remaining to service visitors in regional WA.”

Mr Hall said Western Australia was more reliant than other States on backpackers to serve guests during peak periods due to regional destinations being geographically dispersed and highly seasonal.

“Backpackers are essential to WA’s tourism workforce, as they are keen to move around WA to wherever they are needed. They fill vacancies allowing businesses to service guests in peak periods and provide respite to operators who are otherwise working for months on end without a break,” Mr Hall said.

Tourism Council WA strongly supports the State Government’s marketing campaign to encourage locals to work in the regions. This will help mitigate the loss of the backpacker workforce in regional WA.

He said: “While some towns may triple, or even quadruple, in size during peak periods, the local workforce does not, meaning mobile workers such as the remaining backpackers and Perth people working regionally are crucial. Without enough staff, businesses are having to restrict the number of bookings or guests they can accept, or not being able to deliver their usual level of service, affecting the visitor experience.

“The restriction on out-of-state workers travelling to regional WA is proving as restrictive to businesses as previous restrictions on patron capacity.”

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