Hospitality staff shortage - COVID trend or a long-term problem?

One of the lingering impacts of COVID-19 across all industries is the lack of tourism. Less people coming into our State means less money being spent within our local economy. Which in turn, makes it harder for businesses to make ends meet, particularly for tourism focused venues.

While the lack of tourism is well documented and discussed, perhaps it’s impact on the hospitality industry isn’t as well known. Rivalling it’s impact on the local hospitality economy, is the devastating staff shortage that’s hit our industry.

A lot of tourists and travellers to our State do not simply come for a few days before moving on. Rather, they dedicate months of their lives to travelling throughout WA, or spending a summer in the regions. Funding their endeavours, on these long-term stays, are hospitality vacancies that are so often filled by tourists and backpackers. It’s a natural progression for any traveller looking to get into a good job quickly, with sizeable hours and a good paycheck.

If you were to speak to any hospitality business owner, they would tell you how grateful they are to have had such an availability of staff off the back of tourists and travellers looking to fund their next adventure. Their availability helps fill difficult scheduling issues. Furthermore, it also helps when those extra hands are needed over extremely busy summer seasons.


Referenced in articles from both the ABC and The Gourmet Traveler (among others), these staffing shortages have forced closures of businesses, either temporarily or permanently, over seasons where they would usually be at their peak. It is felt all the way from the Perth CBD, to the far reaches of our State. It should be said though, that tourists and backpackers are the saviour particularly to regional hospitality businesses.

The question (or rather, questions) is then – has this lack-of-tourism-induced staff shortage unveiled a larger issue in our industry? Are attitudes towards hospitality service roles, in our State and perhaps across Australia, vastly different to other countries? Do current generations who find themselves in the natural age to begin a career in hospitality, avoid the roles out of a lack of satisfaction or interest?

Regardless of what the answer is, one thing is true. Every hospitality business owner will be thankful when the borders open and a level of tourism returns, and the staffing headaches ease.

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