Accommodation and hospitality businesses and advocates have universally praised and welcomed this week’s announcement by the Australian Government to continue the reopening of its international border to skilled workers and working holiday makers.
From 1 December, international migration to Australia will gradually resume with fully vaccinated eligible visa holders able to come to Australia without a travel exemption. The latest eligibility list also includes provisional family visa holders, skilled and student visa holders and those on humanitarian visas such as refugees.
The move has been hailed as welcome relief by long-suffering hospitality businesses which since reopening have been starved of staff as many of their operational and customer-facing roles prior to the pandemic were filled by students and working holiday makers, many of whom opting to return to their home countries to ride out the pandemic.
Under the new allowances, travellers entering on approved visa subclasses must be fully vaccinated with a vaccine recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, must provide proof of their vaccination status and present a negative PCR test taken within three days of their departure flight to Australia.
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the return of skilled migrants and students was a major milestone in the country’s road to recovery.
“It’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enabled us to do. It’ll mean a lot for the economies of our country who need those workers and want to see those students return. And, so, we’re looking forward to that occurring from the 1st of December.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Michael Johnson, said he was very happy to hear of the return of international students and working holiday makers.
“International students will assist labour shortages and the visitor economy in the locations they are studying,” Johnson said.
“WHM tend to move more into the regions, hoping to see the best of what Australia has to offer and propping up both the visitor economy and the labour market in popular holiday areas as well as the nation’s CBDs. There will be a lag on their arrival though, so on top of this we need more local young people to join our industry.”
Accommodation Association President, Leanne Harwood, said it represented a sector with job vacancies nearing the 100,000 mark and that while the announcement was welcome, 21 months of lockdown has taken its toll across the workforce.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Government at a State, Territory and Federal level to work together to get back to full speed,” Harwood said.
“Realistically, that’s not going to be until 2022. We also need a consistent approach from the State and Territory Governments on quarantine-free travel for all fully vaccinated arrivals who can show with a current PCR test result that they are COVID-negative.”