Already facing a current shortage of 38,000 workers, the tourism industry woes are set to drift into dire straits if it doesn’t find an extra 123,000 workers – including 60,000 skilled workers – by 2020, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by Austrade.
A key recommendation of the report was to relax working-holiday visas for tourism sector work so that visa holders have no restrictions on staying on with the same employer beyond six months and are allowed to extend their stay for a further 12 months for working in the industry.
Former ACTU president cabinet minister Martin Ferguson told The Australian Financial Review (AFR) that the government must be flexible and allow temporary skilled workers when and where they are most needed.
“…with such an unprecedented pipeline of new hotel development and with record international demand, it will be important for governments to be flexible and allow temporary skilled workers when and where they are most needed,” said Mr Ferguson.
Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond, told the AFR that the report should ring “alarm bells” about the need to attract and retain workers in the tourism industry.
“The Australian government recently announced that they will extend working-holidaymaker visas from six months to 12 months with one employer in Northern Australia – this reform needs to be expanded to cover the entire country,” she said.
“Six months just isn’t long enough with one employer when staff training can take up to three months – three months training for three months’ work is just ludicrous.”
The Australian Government is reportedly considering the recommendations of the report.
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Australians may soon be able to travel without passports
In a world first move, Australia is looking to trial passport-less travel. Virtual passports or ‘cloud passports’ may soon allow Australians to breeze through international airports without having to deal with the sometime mindless enquiries of immigration officials over their traditional passports.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced earlier this week that the idea of ‘passport – less’ travel was presented to and well received by a number of international leaders as part of the Australia’s InnovationXchange project.
A ‘cloud passport’ would work by storing the identity and biometric data of holders online so it could be checked digitally, thus eliminating the need to carry a physical copy.
One obvious benefit would mean Australians no longer would need to worry about losing or having their passports stolen. Statistics from the department of foreign affairs and trade (DFAT) show 38,718 Australian passports were reported lost or stolen in 2014-15.
The idea of document-free travel emerged from the InnovationXchange project. The project encourages DFAT employees to contribute creative ideas using their experience and expertise on the job. The $140 million InnovationXchange project was launched in May in collaboration with American publisher and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Ms Bishop said the ideas emerging from the projects were ‘innovative, challenged the status quo and had the potential to transform the way we do business globally.
“We have a wealth of talent within DFAT and I am delighted to hear these innovative and creative ideas. I hope this concept takes off across the public sector allowing the best ideas to be trialled, adopted and scaled up” said Ms Bishop.
Australia implemented ‘e-passports’ in 2005, which feature an embedded chip storing travellers digitised photograph, name, gender, date of birth, nationality, passport number, and the passport expiry date.
Ms Bishop is confident the Australian initiative of cloud passports ‘will go global’. The initial trial for document-free travel is expected to be for travel between Australia and New Zealand.
4 Australian cities ranked among the best in world for students
Melbourne and Sydney have been ranked among top 10 cities preferred by students while Canberra and Brisbane moved up the ranks to be counted among the be worlds best 20 ahead of the likes of New York, Madrid, and Beijing.
The best place to get a degree in Australia, is Melbourne according to QS Annual Survey of the best cities in the world to be a student in 2016.
While Melbourne scored full marks for job prospects, a diverse mix of students and good quality of life, it was edged out for the top spot by Paris due to the greater variety the European city offered.
Melbourne, scored highly on the “student mix” part of the list’s criteria, which is calculated based on the relative size and diversity of each city’s student population while also taking into account the levels of social inclusion and tolerance.
Sydney ranked fourth, with students pointing to the quality of life and sunshine as key reasons for their choice. Australia’s biggest city is becoming a hub of sorts for fashion students and the – it’s the only city on the list to boast an annual duck fashion show.
The QS best student cities rankings are organised by four main categories: student mix, quality of life, employer activity and affordability. Australian universities ranked highly due to their “laid-back culture and relaxed vibe.”
“I agree with the cliche that Australian universities are more laid-back,” student Imogen Leaning told The Guardian recently. “Lecturers genuinely seem to be chilled, and at my uni shoes seem to be optional,” she says.
She adds that university in Australia is a lot more flexible for students wanting to study a wide range of subjects. “In the UK, people tend to start and finish uni on the same course, whereas in Australia people seem freer to change what they study,” she says.
Canberra was placed at 17 – up four spots from 21 last year and up 20 spots from 37th in 2014, in the rankings. Brisbane ranked 19th and ahead of New York.
Tourism hits new records – guess where the visitors are heading and spending their money?
Despite the amazing natural wonders of Western Australia, the state closest to Asia is struggling to draw visitors and as a result has seen spending by tourists drop by AU$60 million in the year to September, according to figures released by Tourism Australia yesterday.
Overall, the results from Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitor Survey show continuing growth with further record international arrivals, visitor nights and spending figures.
The report revealed that spending reached a new high of $34.8 billion, an increase of 13 per cent or $4.1 billion over the year, which is the strongest growth seen since 2001. International visitor arrivals increased 7 per cent to 6.7 million while nights were up 10 per cent, reaching 242 million during the year ending September 2015.
The Government’s efforts to boost flight capacity, visa reforms and focused international marketing are increasing Australia’s appeal in the growing global tourism market, noted Minister for Tourism and International Education, (and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.
“We have also made tourism infrastructure one of five National Investment Priorities, backing the growth of a key industry which supports around a million jobs,” noted the minister adding, “Australia’s strong international education sector is clearly having a positive impact on our tourism industry; with every international student in Australia attracting visits from friends and family.” Minister for Tourism and International Education Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.
The figures show that visiting Australia for the purposes of education is supporting strong growth, with visitation up 19 per cent and nights up 18 per cent. Total trip spend for education visitors increased by 27 per cent for the year to $8.2 billion, which drove 43 per cent of the overall increase.
With approximately 600,000 international students currently enrolled onshore, and growing, that adds up to a significant contribution, noted Senator Colbeck.
The figures show growth in spending spread across the following visitor categories:
- Education visitor spending: up 27 per cent to $8.2 billion
- Employment visitor spending: up 26 per cent to $2.8 billion
- Visiting friends and relatives spending: up 14 per cent to $5.8 billion
- Holiday visitor spending: up 7 per cent to $13.2 billion
China continues to lead the growth with huge increases; visitor numbers are up 22 per cent to 896,000, nights up 25 per cent to 39.3 million and spend up a huge 43 per cent to $7.7 billion.
There was record spending by visitors from 10 of Australia’s top-20 markets: New Zealand, China, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, France and Switzerland.
Revenue from Tourism showed massive increases with Victoria leading the charge (up 28 per cent), Tasmania (up 24.4 per cent) and New South Wales (15.6 per cent). Western Australia saw a 2.6% increase. Calls are now being made for the Western Australian state government to do much more for tourism.
“The Barnett government has not matched huge increases in destination marketing by Queensland, NSW and Victoria and now those states are all achieving massive growth in international tourism while our numbers collapse,” Opposition (Labor) tourism spokesman Paul Papalia said. “Even Tasmania is embarrassing us.”