A major campaign has been launched to find beds for tourism workers, as the crippling housing shortage combined with the return of international tourists threatens to derail the industry.
- Locals in Port Douglas are asked to offer tourism workers a spare room
- The tropical tourist city has a vacancy rate of 0.4 percent
- The campaign to accommodate workers comes at a time when international tourism is returning
The mecca of tourism in far north Queensland, Port Douglas – long popular with US presidents and celebrities – has one of the lowest vacancies in the country, at just 0.4 percent.
Tourism Port Douglas and CEO Daintree Tara Bennett said the Adopt and Worker project called on the community to provide “any space they can have to accommodate our much-needed seasonal workers” in exchange for cash.
“If you have a vacancy, a grandmother’s apartment, a vacant lot suitable for a tent or van, we urge you to adopt a worker,” Ms Bennett said.
“We are very interested in people who want to come and work in the region, the destination is attractive, especially in winter, but once they get here, they are [not] find a place to stay.
Rhys Bawden owns the Salsa Bar and Grill near the waterfront of Port Douglas, which recently celebrated its 27th anniversary.
The walls are decorated with dozens of plates signed by Hollywood stars Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, while singers Ed Sheeran and Kylie Minogue also stopped for food.
He said the critical shortage of housing has an impact on business.
“We have employees who have lived and worked in Port Douglas for more than 15 years who have lost their homes due to increased rents, making them unavailable, or properties that are being taken out of rent to become vacation homes,” said Mr Bawden. .
The road to healing
It has been a dire two-year border closure for the tourism industry in far north Queensland due to COVID-19, which has crippled an industry that once cost $ 2.5 billion a year for the local economy.
But there are signs of recovery. According to the Australian Statistical Office, 29,780 short-term visitors arrived in Queensland in March this year, an increase of 28,410 compared to the same period last year.
Three months after the reopening of international borders, Ms Bennett said the industry was optimistic, especially during the peak winter months.
“The reservations are fantastic, we have a chance to experience the strongest year the region has ever had,” Ms Bennett said.
“We are already trading well above average before COVID.
Steve Edmondson of Sailaway Reef and Island Tours said they had “never been so busy” driving tourists to the Great Barrier Reef.
“We have four to five full trips every day, our sunset trips are booked two weeks in advance and there are also plenty of private charters,” he said.
“We have stronger forward international reservations than before COVID.”
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