Indicative of the situation now being mirrored across the entire country, some 30 Sunshine Coast-based hospitality venues have either temporarily closed or been forced to reduce their operations due, predominantly, to workforce-related issues.
Acting on this, Visit Sunshine Coast has joined resources with Sunshine Coast Council in a move intended to lure younger workers to the region as part of a ‘Gap year here this year’ branded initiative.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckel said the aim is to leverage the enviable lifestyle that makes the Sunshine Coast such an attractive destination as an incentive for the younger set.
“Hospitality in the form of restaurants, breweries and entertainment venues is a key component of the Sunshine Coast tourism offer, so the impact of COVID on staffing is a major concern for us, especially during peak tourism seasons such as now,” he said.
“We have heard from hospitality venues across the Sunshine Coast that they are struggling to cope with the loss of labour, and for many of these businesses it has meant even longer hours and harder work, because there are no instant answers to accessing alternative staff.
“We are working with Sunshine Coast Council to attract more workers to the Sunshine Coast through the ‘Gap year here this year’ aimed at encouraging younger workers to come and enjoy a working holiday on the Sunshine Coast during our peak season.
“The campaign leverages our enviable lifestyle that makes us an attractive destination for young workers starting out in their careers.”
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) and Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) launched a similar program last November, targeting young Tasmanians who have just left school or looking for work while taking a gap year to take on roles in tourism and hospitality.
An ongoing Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) survey of its New South Wales membership, indicates close on 70 hotels are operating in a restricted environment due to labour shortages coupled with further labour shortages caused by staff being forced off work due to COVID-related close contact isolation.
TAA CEO, Michael Johnson said everyone is running in a restricted environment.
“The labour crisis already in place prior to the advent of Omicron has been exacerbated right across the hotel and hospitality industry and I think, certainly from our perspective, government has to look at the current close contact ratio which has become critical otherwise we’re just not going to trade out of this situation,” he said.
Mr Johnson said the survey showed that while staff-light CBD-based hotels were quiet, sitting on around 25-30 percent occupancy, if they were lucky, the current situation was having more impact in the regions.
“Hotels in the popular holiday spots are busy but struggling with this close contact factor with staff having to be off having caught COVID or having been in close contact,” said.
“And this is the time of year when we prepare for winter, when we put the goodies away to get us through the quiet times.
“Unfortunately, we’re not able to capitalise on this busy time because of staff shortages.
“It’s a double-edged sword. It’s difficult now and that will only make it more difficult when we don’t have that store of support.”
The results of the survey are expected to be released later this week.
Mike Parker-Brown is a UK-trained and qualified journalist and an award-winning travel communicator with more than 30 years experience.
Since 2002, Mike has worked as a freelance writer and PR consultant providing his services to major organisations in Australia and internationally in the tourism, aviation, hospitality, recruitment and export marketing sectors.