Australia’s Labor Party has announced a $48 million tourism and travel package which includes a $10 million injection in training and skills development for the hospitality and accommodation sectors.

Industry groups the Accommodation Association, Australian Hotels Association and Tourism Accommodation Australia, who have long called for additional funding for training, have welcomed the commitment.

“As one of the safest and most exciting destinations in the world, it is vital our accommodation and hospitality workforce has the necessary skills and training to provide wonderful customer service and experiences,” Accommodation Association President, and incoming Accommodation Australia President, Leanne Harwood, said.

“The statistics speak for themselves – we need to attract, educate and re-train 100,000 staff into hospitality after more than 40 per cent of our workforce was lost nationally during COVID.

“This funding will help us work with all training organisations to bring staff back into our resilient sector and help us build for a brighter future.”

Australian Hotels Association CEO, Stephen Ferguson, said the grant would support the industry to hire young and old, and retain strong talent.

“This funding would go a long way to assist with our goals of attracting mature-age Australians wanting to return to the workforce and share their skills and knowledge,” Ferguson said.

“At the same time, it will help us educate school leavers on the exciting career options available in hospitality. 

“Of course, it’s equally important we retain talent already working in the sector. This funding will help our hardworking staff gain training to acquire new skills to support their professional growth and also assist people seeking to progress their careers within their organisations.”

The announcement was also welcomed by Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), which said that additional funding will support businesses to rebuild their workforce and reconnect with international markets.

“The industry will welcome these new initiatives announced by the Labor Party today and will put the funding to good use in rebuilding our $45 billion export tourism economy,” said ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley. 

“Workforce strain has been a long-term issue for the industry and right now it is even more critical as tourism businesses try to reinstate the huge number of skilled and unskilled staff who exited the industry with covid lockdowns that closed operations.”

Shelley said Australia’s export tourism businesses face a huge challenge in reconnecting with their international markets and rebuilding confidence in travel to Australia, but that this additional marketing funding will help. 

“While this funding is a strong start for the Labor Party in supporting the tourism industry, we look forward to bringing these and other opportunities to life should there be a change of Government this weekend,” Shelley added.