Australia’s tourism industry – one of the country’s major employers – is facing many challenges that could impact on jobs.
As the local tourism industry faces a sustained high Australian dollar, as well as tough global economic conditions and downturn in visitors from traditional markets, government policy must allow the industry to adapt.
Co-convenor of the national Tourism & Events Excellence conference next week (September 5-7) at Melbourne’s MCG, Tony Charters said the conference hopes to engage governments.
“While there is not much that can be done about international conditions, the tourism industry must adapt to remain competitive, but it can’t do this by itself,” said Mr. Charters, “Governments have a role to play as changes in policy will help the industry to adjust.
“Otherwise we are likely to see Australian tourism investors moving off shore to develop tourist attractions and accommodation in economies with less regulation, lower costs to build and operate, and significantly lower labor costs in the same way manufacturers across many sectors have bailed out to China, Thailand, and India.”
Wayne Kayler-Thomson, Deputy Chairman of conference co-convenor, Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), agrees that government policy can assist the tourism industry secure its future.
“As a labor intensive industry, Australia’s workplace relations regime has a significant impact on the labor costs of tourism businesses,” said Mr. Kayler-Thomson, “The modern awards system does not reflect the nature of employees’ working hours; the fact the majority of hospitality businesses do much of their business and, therefore, engage the most staff, outside of the hours of 7 am–7 pm, wouldn’t surprise anyone.
“But rather than the awards system reflecting the unusual operating hours of these businesses, employers are forced to calculate penalty rates and night allowances because the respective award deems work done outside the hours of 7 am–7 pm to be outside regular working hours.
“Tourism directly employs 500,000 workers, more than double the people employed by mining (181,000). It employs more people than agriculture, forestry, and fishing; financial and insurance services; and wholesale trade, according to the Tourism Satellite Account for 2009–10.”
The role government can play will be a hotly-debated topic at the conference.
A full conference program is available at www.teeconference.com.au .