While Australia's skills shortage shows no signs of fading, WA Tourism Minister Kim Hames has come forward and started lobbying the federal government to relax visa rules for working holiday makers (backpackers) to help fill job vacancies in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Proposing that the 12 month Working Holiday Visa (WHV) be doubled to two years, and restrictions limiting backpackers to six months work per job be lifted, Dr Hames is working towards filling the 36,000 tourism vacancies across Australia and according to the Australian Tourism Export Council, this number may double by 2015.
More at WA Today:
Under current [WHV] rules, working holiday makers are able to extend their visas by 12 months if they spend 88 days in a regional industry - such as agriculture, mining, construction or fishing.
The council wants this rule extended to cover tourism and hospitality.
Dr Hames said he had written to Federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen requesting the visa laws be relaxed in WA.
"Specifically the requirement for people who are backpackers to only be able to stay a year, and only to be able to do six months in a particular job," he said.
"We'd like to see both of those doubled, because they're the people that are out there, in our regions, taking on the jobs that other people don't want, particularly in our tourism and hospitality industry."
Australian Hotels Association chief executive Bradley Woods said many regional areas were finding it increasingly difficult to attract workers.
"The mining boom is doing very well, but it's also drawing staff out of hospitality, accommodation and other tourism businesses."
"We need people who have the capacity and experience to provide good customer services, good hospitality services, and understand the industry."
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