The Federal Government’s decision to allow visa holders who are fully vaccinated to enter from December 1 without needing to apply for a travel exemption is a welcome boost for the tourism and hospitality sectors which are struggling to find staff as demand bounces back.
“Steps we are taking today are about securing our economic recovery, steps we are taking today are about Australians looking forward, steps we are taking today is about taking Australia forward,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back.”
Around 200,000 eligible visa holders including skilled workers, international students and working holidaymakers are expected to come to Australia when restrictions lift.
A recent survey by the Australian Hotels Association found the hospitality workforce in Victoria was sitting at just 61 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while more than 90,000 hospitality roles were up for grabs across the country.
The Australian Tourism Export Council said the announcement gave some certainty to the tourism sector.
“Today’s announcement will put certainty back into the tourism sector’s ability to service demand from increased travel,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“With so many tourism businesses either downsizing or closing over the past 20 months, many tourism staff have moved on and as we begin to reopen for domestic and international visitors, there will be significant pressure on service quality and capacity in the industry.”
John Hart, executive chair at Australian Chamber – Tourism, said the announcement was great news ahead of the busy summer period.
“Working holiday makers are not only some of our highest yielding visitors, spending $3.2 Billion a year before Covid, but they make up a substantial part of the very workforce we need right now,” he said.
“If we are going to be able to offer Australians the Christmas holiday that deserve this year, we need our backpackers back.”