Tourism industry to shed jobs

COFFS Coast tourism staff could be out of work this year, with a new survey finding two-thirds of tourism businesses will shed jobs in 2009 as they struggle through the global financial crisis.

A survey by the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) found that 60 per cent of tourism businesses in Australia expected to make at least moderate cuts to their workforces, with eight per cent claiming the cuts would be 'significant'.

According to Tourism Research Australia, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen Shire and Nambucca Shire supports more than 2400 tourism businesses, with 159 businesses across the Coffs Coast employing 20 or more people.

TTF executive director Olivia Wirth said with 480,000 people directly employed in the tourism industry, thousands of jobs could go, with many of them from regional areas.

“Tourism's reliance on discretionary spending means it is particularly susceptible to any economic downturn and the majority of respondents to our survey clearly believe that will lead to job losses,” Ms Wirth said.

“This is an alarming result and underlines the challenges facing the industry for the coming year.”

Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said while local tourism operators have enjoyed a good season, it's the year ahead that is concerning them.

“There will be challenges, and any further stimulus packages proposed by the government must ensure measures to encourage tourism,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

The Coffs Coast had a booming summer season, thanks in part to clear weather after a disastrous rain-swept season the previous year.

While Ms Wirth said the survey showed that businesses had not done as badly as they had feared in the last quarter of 2008, respondents also said they feared the worst was yet to come.

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