Tourism losing workers to FIFO

TOURISM workers in regional areas are leaving the industry in droves to join the growing resource industry workforce, an inquiry into fly-in fly-out mining practices heard on Wednesday.

Industry lobby Tourism and Transport Forum told a parliamentary committee the regional tourism was being stripped of its workers by the mining industry.

TTF research and strategy director Adele Labine-Romain told the committee some 35,000 job vacancies already existed in the tourism industry, and that figure was expected to grow to more than 56,000 by 2015.

And the majority of these lost workers were in regional areas where the mining boom was playing out.

While residents and regular visitors to towns such as Moranbah, Emerald and Mackay would know how hard it is to find a hotel room or get flights to and from the regional centres, the figures show the stark change happening in regional mining towns.

Ms Labine-Romain said the mining boom was a two-edge sword for the tourism industry, with some accommodation suppliers doing very well as a result of rooms filled with mine workers and contractors, while the huge demand was forcing many domestic road tourers out of rooms and caravan park places and onto roadside parking areas and even parking illegally to find a place to sleep at night.

A report on labour force workforce shortages by Deloitte Access Economics completed in 2010 for the Federal Government showed the number of vacancies in regional Queensland was twice that (at 8%) of the south-east corner, while north and west New South Wales rate was 13% while the Sydney rate was 4%.

Ms Labine-Romain said in places like Mackay tourism businesses were not even able to market their services to road travellers any longer because all the extra capacity was already taken up by miners.

The TTF also made three main recommendations for the committee to consider.

These were to ensure mining accommodation was built closer to regional towns, and was suitable for use as tourism ventures once the resource industry came down off its current peak; to fast-track access to labour for the tourism industry and a second-year extension for overseas workers in regional tourism, as well as changes to charter and open bookings on regional air flights.

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