Yamba tourism looks to long-term

WITH tourism being the biggest employer of people in the Northern Rivers, news that almost two-thirds of tourism businesses are expected to cut staff as a result of the global economic climate cannot be good.

While some local businesses say that they have experienced 'absolutely no downturn', others have employed measures to cope with the seasonal low point at this time of year that may extend into the future.

The Angourie Rainforest Resort general manager, Colin Quick, said that instead of letting staff go, they had reduced their working week to four or four-and-a-half days.

“Good staff is hard to find and we don't want to let them go, especially after investing in their training,” he said.

Although figures show a downturn in the number of domestic overnight visitors to the region, overseas visitors are on the increase and backpacker accommodation grasped the biggest area of growth.

Kelly Hanson is a co-owner of the Yamba YHA and said that their bed rates were well above forecasts, with the majority of visitors coming from the UK and Germany.

The YHA is also in a good position because it is family run and staff wages do not have to be met, and backpackers often clean their rooms in exchanged rent.

From an overall employment perspective, the Northern Rivers traditionally has double the national average of unemployment.

Employment consultants in the area say that in the past three months their applicants for jobs and benefits have tripled.

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