The Guardian 21 September, 2005

IR changes to hit tourism

Changes to Australia’s industrial relations system would have a devastating impact on the domestic tourism industry, according to a confidential report prepared for State Tourism Ministers.

The Tourism Research Australia report finds spending on tourism is declining across domestic travel - because it is just too difficult to organise. And it says changes to the labour market, including an increase in casualisation and longer working fixed hours were one of the factors driving domestic travel down.

"For people working long hours or combining work and study, finding time to travel is an increasing problem", the report says.

"The increased casualisation of the labour market is likely to continue. This being the case, the difficulties people are having in organising and taking travel could be expected to worsen."

Instead, it finds working families who travel are more likely to stay with families and friends, which is cheaper and more flexible - but generates less economic activity.

Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson says the report highlights the flow-on effect of changes to industrial relations laws.

"The tourism industry, particularly in areas like the NSW North Coast, will be a big loser under these changes because people will be working longer hours with less job security.

"Add to that plans to pressure workers into trading down annual leave from four weeks to two weeks and you have a real problem for the tourism industry."

The state labour council highlighted the impact of changes to industrial relations on the tourism industry as the bright orange Rights at Work bus traveled through northern NSW.

"This is a great chance to talk directly to regional communities about the impact of these laws on their families and their local economies", Mr Robertson said.

Public meetings were held at Port Macquarie, Macksville, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Lismore, Armidale, and Tamworth.

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