Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long
Accor’s Simon McGrath said the JobKeeper program saved the company from furloughing many staff.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, has written to senior Federal Cabinet figures in Canberra urging for an extension to the JobKeeper program, warning as many as 23,000 jobs could be at stake.

As part of the organisation’s latest efforts for a tailored support package to suit the industry, ongoing since February, the Association says an extension through March 2021 had been a resounding success for hotel owners and operators, preventing mass furloughs and allowing for employees to be kept at work despite operating with single-digit capacity levels.

In addition, the AA effort calls for JobKeeper to be expanded to casual workers and permanent residents who have held a position with the same employer for 12 months or longer as of October 2020. The current allowance of $1,500 per employee should transition to a cap structure to encourage workforce participation, while exemptions under the Hospitality Industry General Award (HIGA) should be continued for the life of the scheme to ensure employment outcomes are maximised.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long

According to the organisation, nearly 90,000 people are employed across Australia in hotels, motels and caravan parks, with those in regional and rural Australia being hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic impact. Revenues plummeted 85% in three months, while recovery time is expected to be as high as 24 months in some areas and a minimum of 12 months.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said that at best, forecasts show demand for accommodation will be down by around 50% than pre-COVID levels until at least March 2021.

“The reality is that accommodation providers, whether large or small, metropolitan or regional, will simply not have recovered sufficiently by the end of September to bring employees back to work if JobKeeper is not extended for the accommodation sector,” Long said.

“If JobKeeper is not extended beyond September, an extra 23,000 Australians currently employed in the accommodation sector will lose their jobs.”