Tourist operators have voiced their frustrations about how a lack of housing is hampering their recruitment bids ahead of the peak summer season.
Accommodation, hospitality, tourism and real estate operators attended a Commerce Moyne worker accommodation ideas forum on Friday, sharing their frustrations about the challenges around attracting staff when they couldn't accommodate them.
The newly-formed Commerce Moyne hosted the ideas forum which was led by Moyne Shire mayor Karen Foster and speaker and director of economic development and planning Darby Lee.
The session comes as worker shortages plague the region, and the nation, as operators try to recruit and retain staff post COVID-19.
One of the challenges in attracting employees is the lack of housing in the south-west, hampering both large and smaller organisations' recruitment bids.
Commerce Moyne business festival coordinator Liz Grant said there were some great suggestions but 90 per cent would rely on lobbying state or federal government.
Ms Grant said ideas included businesses providing housing as part of an employment contract and incentivising the subdivision of existing residential properties to create more land for housing.
Other suggestions included changing existing zoning or permit requirements to allow for more relocatables and permanent housing, and to allow tenants and not only dependent family members to live in granny flats.
There were also calls to extend the Working Holiday visa for overseas workers to complete 88 days of employment in a regional area to be consistent regardless of the industry, she said.
"It's classified as regional if you're working in agriculture but they're not regional if they're working in hospitality," Ms Grant said.
She said a mix of short-term seasonal accommodation and long-term housing was needed and the shire had been proactive at coming up with solutions and advocating for more worker housing.
"Everyone's hurting, everyone's struggling in some way...We've got all these AirBnbs so there's all this accommodation for people to come down and stay," she said. "But if there's no workers, are the restaurants, cafes and shops going to be open and be able to take the numbers? You've got almost too many people staying and not enough people serving."
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