IHG's Australasian leader, Leanne Harwood, has taken on industry-wide leadership as the Accommodation Association's new President.

Leading Australian and Pacific hoteliers and executives have applauded the move by the Queensland Government to incentivise job seekers to relocate to the state and claim jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry and urged other states to follow suit.

Announced last week by Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palasczcuk, the new ‘Work In Paradise’ incentive provides a cash payment of AUD$1,500 in addition to an AUD$250 relocation allowance and housing assistance to take a job in Queensland’s tourism industry. The campaign, which kicks off from 1 July, is aimed at addressing critical labour shortages in the sector throughout the state but especially in areas where tourism is a lifeblood of the city, such as the Whitsundays and Cairns.

IHG Hotels and Resorts Managing Director Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood, said the talent shortage has accommodation operators in crisis, with the company desperately seeking to fill 600 positions across its Australian network. At a time when domestic tourism is thriving due to international border closures, the labour shortages is forcing hotels from all brands to reduce available inventory to ensure they can maintain a high standard of service.

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort is one place where workers are needed.

“It’s so heartening to see Australians getting out to ‘holiday here’ in droves, but this extraordinary demand has exacerbated our talent challenge, and there simply aren’t enough people to provide hospitality – from amazing front line staff, to the experts in finance, marketing, HR, IT, engineering and other diverse and critical roles required to run a hotel,” Harwood said.

‘Work in Paradise’ is the type of forward-thinking we want to see from governments, but we recognise that it’s also our responsibility.

“As hoteliers we must wave the flag to change perception and make sure jobseekers are aware that our diverse and inclusive accommodation sector offers amazing career progression, benefits, travel opportunities, training and pay. We in the industry know it so well, but we need to spread the word that whatever your specialism, there’s a bright career in hotels.”

Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Simon McGrath AM

Accor Pacific CEO, Simon McGrath, echoed Harwood’s sentiments, saying the possibilities are endless for those willing to make their mark and build a career in hospitality.

“Federal government initiatives which encourage people to join our exciting and dynamic industry are fantastic. A career in hospitality brings extraordinary development and learning opportunities,” he said.

“I have worked for Accor for a long time, because you can be yourself and take your career wherever you want. If people are passionate about caring for guests and doing their best, they will go far in our industry.”

Career opportunities in tourism are vast and capable of taking a person around the world.

Harwood issued a call to other Australian states and territories to develop their own incentives to encourage people eager to work and grow their skills base to dive into a career in the hotel industry.

“So, this is a call to arms: Aussies, we need you,” she said.

“In fact, right now IHG alone needs around 600 new recruits across front line and functional roles to keep things ticking along, and will need around 4,000 more in the near future. Tell your friends, regardless of specialism, age or experience, there’s a great career in hotels waiting for you”.

Marriott International Area Vice President Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Sean Hunt.

Marriott International Area VP ANZP, Sean Hunt, said the company welcomed all activity that boosts the sector overall, particularly as it relates to staff shortages.

“The initiative being rolled out in Queensland may provide some relief, however, the supply of workers for the industry will most likely remain under pressure while the current restrictions on travel, temporary visas and working holiday visas are in place,” Hunt said.

At Marriott, we are experiencing staff shortages, particularly for line manager roles. Staff training and retention is a high priority for us and we continue to promote internally. However, as we promote, the result is gaps that are difficult to fill at the moment.”

For more from HM’s interview with Leanne Harwood, subscribe to ensure you don’t miss the June edition of HM Magazine, which will be distributed to subscribers next month.