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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Border closure cuts off backpacker workforce

South-east Queensland tourism operators are crying out for workers for the upcoming Ekka public holiday long weekend, with the border closure cutting of their usual supply of itinerant workers.

“Tourism operators have a need for all manner of workers, supervisors and managers for the next three months of the season,” said Outback Queensland Tourism Association CEO Denise Brown.

“We’re missing the traditional workforce provided by international backpackers and encourage job-seekers to check out the online job sites for immediate opportunities,” she said.

Longreach Mayor Tony Rayner said attracting workers to all of the council areas involved in the Western Queensland Alliance of Councils was a major issue discussed at a recent round-table meeting held in the town.

“All industries from agricultural, retail, hospitality and tourism have immediate job opportunities,” he said.

Meanwhile Blackall-Tambo Mayor Andrew Martin, who is Chair of Outback Queensland Tourism Association, urged operators to increase tours and accommodation options if more staff could be attracted across the regions. 

“We welcome visitors to stay another night in all our regions, sampling our big warm welcome,” he said.

South-east Queensland tourism destinations have reported exceptionally strong booking numbers for the coming Ekka public holiday long weekend, which has been moved to August 14.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said shifting the holiday and creating a new long weekend in south east Queensland was aimed at helping tourism operators as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

“These long weekends pump millions of dollars into our economy. By giving Queenslanders an extended break over the Ekka weekend, more, much needed cash is being injected into thousands of struggling tourism businesses,” the Premier said.

“The current feedback on holiday bookings we are getting from operators is just what we wanted to hear.

“Reports from the Sunshine Coast are that finding accommodation is becoming increasingly hard, while on the Fraser Coast many operators, including the whale fleet, are reporting they are near capacity.

She said it was a similar story on the Granite Belt, with operators delighted at the strong forward bookings, not only for the long weekend but through to the September school holidays.

“What this shows is our Good to Go campaign has really hit the right chord with Queenslanders who have never been happier to get out and explore their state,” said Ms Palaszczuk.

“It’s also not too late to book, but the clear message from industry is to do it quickly.”

Fraser Coast Tourism and Events chief executive, Martin Simons said bookings across Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and Lady Elliot showed that engaging with nature, whales and uncrowded beaches was meeting the needs of people looking for a safe haven in the COVID-impacted world.

“We are within three to four hours of 70 per cent of Queensland’s population living in the south-east corner and a great place to reboot after the journey we have all been on,” he said.

The new public holiday on Friday August 14 is for people living in Brisbane, Weipa, Rockhampton, Livingstone, Mackay, Gold Coast, Logan, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Cloncurry and Whitsunday (for the Bowen area only) council areas.

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