Australian Tourism industry needs over 120,000 extra workers by 2020

Already facing a current shortage of 38,000 workers, the tourism industry woes are set to drift into dire straits if it doesn’t find an extra 123,000 workers - including 60,000 skilled workers - by 2020, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by Austrade.

A key recommendation of the report was to relax working-holiday visas for tourism sector work so that visa holders have no restrictions on staying on with the same employer beyond six months and are allowed to extend their stay for a further 12 months for working in the industry.

Former ACTU president cabinet minister Martin Ferguson told The Australian Financial Review (AFR) that the government must be flexible and allow temporary skilled workers when and where they are most needed.

"…with such an unprecedented pipeline of new hotel development and with record international demand, it will be important for governments to be flexible and allow temporary skilled workers when and where they are most needed,” said Mr Ferguson.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond, told the AFR that the report should ring "alarm bells" about the need to attract and retain workers in the tourism industry.

"The Australian government recently announced that they will extend working-holidaymaker visas from six months to 12 months with one employer in Northern Australia – this reform needs to be expanded to cover the entire country," she said.

"Six months just isn't long enough with one employer when staff training can take up to three months – three months training for three months’ work is just ludicrous."

The Australian Government is reportedly considering the recommendations of the report.