Gold Coast tourism operators "hanging on by a thread"

Gold Coast tourism operators "hanging on by a thread"

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the city is “in the fight of its life” after new research released today found tourism jobs in the Queensland hub have been cut by 20 per cent in 12 months.

The research, commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum (TFF), also forecast tourism employment on the Gold Coast will drop by another 4,000 full-time and part-time jobs from now until Christmas if current travel restrictions remain in place.

Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said his heart goes out to the 4,600 tourism businesses suffering during this time.

“We are proudly Australia’s favourite holiday destination, but our operators are hanging on by a thread,” Donovan said.

“Our local tourism industry relies on people travelling to enjoy what the region has to offer and with more than half of Australia’s population under travel restrictions, the impact on the Gold Coast is significant.”

O’Callaghan said it was “heartbreaking” to watch tourism operators from mum and dad businesses right through to major hoteliers and theme parks struggle to hold on financially and retain a skilled workforce.

“These figures are heartbreaking,” O’Callaghan said.

“We know the industry will bounce back once people are able to travel again, but until that happens, the industry is requesting targeted financial support from the Government.

“Measures around business hardship grants and financial mechanisms that allow employers to retain skilled staff and keep them connected to the business until economic conditions improve will be critical.”

TTF CEO Margy Osmond said the sector is reeling having lost the critical Sydney and Melbourne visitors for the July school holiday period – the third peak holiday period in a row decimated by lockdowns. Similarly, the outlook for the upcoming September school holidays is looking bleak.

Kate Forrester, who runs family-owned operator Gold Coast Watersports, said her and her husband are nervous about the upcoming school holidays. 

“We are currently running at 10 per cent, so the loss to our bottom line is enormous which has led to reducing staff hours just so we can retain our skilled jet ski tour guides, parasail and jet boat captains,” Forrester said. 

“As a business owner, we are clinging on to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but at the end of the day we need urgent support to keep afloat.”

The research comes after Roy Morgan unveiled 1.36 million Australians were unemployed in August, down 60,000 in July, for an unemployment rate of 9.5 per cent.

The latest data represents a contraction in the Australian workforce driven by COVID-19 lockdowns, down more than 200,000 to 14.4 million, including the 1.36 million looking for work.

Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 9.5 per cent for August is nearly 5 percentage points higher than the current ABS estimate for July 2021 of 4.6 per cent.

However, the ABS figure for July counts as employed an additional 181,000 Australians who were working zero hours for ‘economic reasons’ and 207,000 Australians who were working zero hours for ‘other reasons’ – such as being forced out of work by mandatory lockdowns.

In addition to those who were unemployed, 1.18 million Australians (8.2 per cent of the workforce) were under-employed – working part-time but looking for more work, a drop of 159,000 (down 0.9 percentage points) from July.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says the lockdown of Australia’s two largest states throughout the month of August has led to drops across all key employment estimates including the workforce as a whole as well as employment and unemployment – all down on July.

“Although the latest Roy Morgan employment estimates for August show unemployment falling 0.2 percentage points to 9.5 per cent, the broader picture shows this is not due to increasing jobs but rather the impact of lockdowns directly impacting over half of the Australian population,” says Levine.

“Unfortunately, the lockdown of over 15 million Australians in NSW, Victoria and the ACT during August is set to continue throughout the current month of September. However, the ‘relatively’ positive news is that the vaccination program has significantly accelerated in recent weeks as locked down people in NSW and Victoria rush out to get vaccinated and the full vaccination targets of 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the population are set to be reached earlier than initially forecast.

“Despite the positive trends on vaccination the next two months are still set to be very hard for the retail, hospitality, recreational and personal businesses that rely on close personal contact. During this period it remains absolutely imperative that both Federal & State Governments offer businesses negatively impacted by the lockdowns a sufficient level of support to ensure business closures over this period are kept to a minimum.”

This update is brought to you by Employment Hero.

Click here to go to Employment Hero’s Covid-19 Resource Hub for essential resources to help employers, managers and HR specialists navigate the ongoing pandemic. 


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