Visa change could force leading Whitsundays hotel to close

Coral Sea Resort general manager Greg Waites uses 457 visa workers because he can't find qualified Australians to fill the roles.
Coral Sea Resort general manager Greg Waites uses 457 visa workers because he can't find qualified Australians to fill the roles. Inge Hansen

A MAJOR Whitsundays hotel which has used the 457 visa scheme extensively could be at risk of closing due to a lack of experienced Australian staff to fill hospitality roles.

The claim was made by Tourism Whitsundays board member and Coral Sea Resort general manager Greg Waites, who said they struggled to get chefs and other qualified staff to move to Airlie Beach on a long-term basis.

"Successful kitchens require continuity, you can't have a revolving door,” Mr Waites said.

"Australians do not want to work in this environment for long periods of time continuously, you cannot get someone willing to commit for 2-3 years.

"We've had in the past a food and beverage manager, wedding and events co-ordinator, restaurant manager, we've had a front office manager, all on 457 visas.

"We have five people at any given time here on a visa and have had for the past seven years.

"I would have to close my hotel, if I didn't have 457 or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas, truly, I could not operate.”

He said all of his positions had been "widely” advertised before accessing the visa and all staff received the same salary as Australians.

These comments were echoed by Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner who said it was difficult to attract people with the right skills to regional Queensland.

"I'd like to see more detail, to see what jobs remain, because there may be some real impacts on the tourism industry depending on what they deem to be in and what they deem to be out.

"To us, in the Whitsundays, it's not considered that regional, but it's still very challenging to get people to come here.”

Mr Turner believed the path to residency offered by 457 visas was a contributing factor to ensuring workers were committed to the region they settled in.

Cafe or restaurant managers, cooks and chefs made up 16.2 per cent of Queensland's 457 visa approved applications in the 2015-16 financial year.

Topics:  457 visa coral sea resort hospitality tourism whitsundays

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