No more business as usual: Hotel boss calls for better pay for tourism workers

Queensland’s biggest hotel chain has broken stride with the rest of the tourism sector and declared workers “have to be paid what they are worth”.

Mar 31, 2022, updated Mar 31, 2022
Accor's chief executive says workers have to be paid what they are worth

Accor's chief executive says workers have to be paid what they are worth

The sector, which has been battered by pandemic restrictions with billions of dollars in revenue lost in the past two years, is now facing a worker shortage which is being compounded by a lack of housing in tourism hot spots as well as the industry’s reputation for lower pay and conditions.

But Accor chief executive Sarah Deery said there was a skills shortage occurring at the same time as the sector’s recovery.

“We have to be competitive,” Deery said.

“We have to pay them what they are worth.”

Even in tourism hot spots many people avoid working in the sector and there has been a reliance on jobs being filled by backpackers and foreign students.

She said Accor had been forced into providing housing for some of its staff because of the accommodation shortage. It has also adopted more flexible working hours and conditions, but there was still a skills shortage.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” she said.

However, she said Accor was now looking at reaching 2019 levels of accommodation by the end of this year.

The surge in business on the Sunshine and Gold coasts was responsible. Accor’s hotels had an occupancy 70 per cent between January and March, slightly better than pre-Covid levels.

Brisbane’s occupancy was still 25 per cent lower than pre-Covid but that was because corporate travellers had yet to return, Deery said.

“Queensland is set to lead the Australian recovery in travel,” she said.

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“The state’s natural attractions, climate and environment combined with its popularity for conferences and events, provide us with considerable optimism for the rest of 2022.

“We saw two of Australia’s most popular leisure destination _ the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast _ regain most of the ground lost over the past two years by successfully targeting the drive markets within Queensland and interstate.”

The imminent return of New Zealand travellers would provide “a massive shot in the arm” for the Queensland market.

However, she said there needed to be more certainty about borders before international travel returned to pre-Covid levels.





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