Northern Rivers NSW Tourism & Hospitality Forum, November 2021

Nov 22 2021

Northern Rivers NSW Tourism & Hospitality Forum, November 2021

Jane Laverty from Business NSW recently hosted the 2021 Tourism and Hospitality Forum at the Ballina RSL 22nd November 2021.  The following are notes taken from the day by NRF who attended the forum.


Setting the Scene – The Migration of Skills – current status:

We are all aware of the issues impacting Australia for tourism and hospitality including:

  • COVID has effectively halted Australia’s migration
  • Labour and skills are continuing to be felt across the board
  • The challenges will now be exacerbated as we emerge from lockdown, with pent up demand
  • Labour and skills shortages could result in businesses operating below full capacity at a time when they are seeking to ‘bounce back’.
  • Reopened international borders will mitigate some skills gaps but by no means all
  • Skilled temporary migration is overwhelmingly professions and managers
  • The bigger impact will be the return of international students and working holiday makers
  • Currently there are an estimated 500,000 fewer people from these cohorts across Australia (300,000 fewer international students and 200,000 fewer WHM) – many whom would have worked in the hospitality industry and some of the gaps.


Government Agencies Offering Support

The forum offered a summary from a range of government agencies who summarised a range of initiatives, grants and opportunities on offer from the government sector at the moment for the tourism and hospitality industry.


  1. Michael Thurston, Destination North Coast

Tourism snapshot – funding and industry support for tourism and hospitality sector in this region:

  • Business accelerator and mentoring program
  • Rail Trail Development Program
  • NSW Flavour Trails
  • Business Events Program


Destination NSW Event Funding:

  • Regional Business event fund (closes 31 Jan 2022)
  • Regional event fund (closes 5th Dec)
  • Incubator event fund
  • Refresh & renew funding
  • Experience development fund


Dine & Discover Vouchers – soon to be extended to June 2022.



Summer outlook:

  • Limited international options
  • Continued uncertainty of domestic borders
  • Heightened levels of domestic day trip and overnight visitation
  • Continued challenges around staffing
  • It’s going to be busy!

More information on programs available from: or contact:  Jacqui Burnside at Destination North Coast E:


  1. Tim Williamson, Regional Development Australia, Northern Rivers

“The Summer of Jobs” Overview

  • Three streams of different campaigns – all branded under “The Summer of Jobs”
  • Linking young people (16-24) to employers
  • Supported by summer skills campaign
  • My future workforce platform

More information:


  1. Damon McCarthy, Senior Project Officer, Skills Broker, Regional Industry Education Officer for Training Services NSW
  • Works with industry to identify current skill needs
  • Broker training programs with TAFE and private Registered Training Organisations
  • Focus on attracting new staff or retaining existing staff.

More information contact:


  1. Tracy Bolt, RIEP

Next Gen Program Overview:

  • Helping to connect business and local schools
  • Help students develop the skills they need to get a job
  • Hospitality showcase planned for 2022
  • Northern Rivers career expo planned for May 2022 with Connect Northern Rivers.

Contact: Tracy at E: or T: 0457 060 993 or Jill McCall T: 0436 846 104 E:


  1. Derek Whitney, TAFE NSW

Opportunities for businesses to take advantage of the 50% wage subsidies on offer between now and March 2022.  Eligibility for 50% wage subsidy for 12 months includes:

  • Any existing staff who have been employed as a casual or perm, part time worker for less than 12 months
  • Any existing perm, full time staff who have been employed less than 3 months
  • Any new staff who are commenced into a traineeship or apprenticeship

More details, Contact Derek T: 0456 961 263 E:


  1. Peter Skorupanovic, Employment Facilitator, Local Jobs Program

Work with employers to develop solutions at a local level and support people back into work post COVID.  Includes: displaced workers, aged care, indigenous and youth, tourism and hospitality. In particular, there are currently opportunities to work with the mature aged sector who are seeking work.

Some of their initiatives include:

  • Connecting transport service for Lismore to Byron Bay and Kyogle to Lismore.
  • Hospitality pre-employment for mature aged
  • Virtual employer connection meetings
  • Apprenticeship and traineeship program
  • National online jobs fair Nov 25th from 1-5pm

Contact: Peter Skorupanovic T: 0490 433 230 E:


  1. Lenna Klintworth, Business Development Manager, Regional Development North Coast.

Regional Skills Relocation Grant Overview

Available to businesses operating in NSW regional eligible industries (including tourism and hospitality).   Includes relocation costs to move from metro area to regional NSW area with $10K available for:

  • Furniture removal
  • Travel for immediate family to relocate
  • Temporary accommodation for up to 3 months
  • Furniture storage for up to 3 months

There are conditions listed on the website. More information:


  1. Jane Laverty, Staffing attraction campaign

We know that everyone is struggling to attract the staff they need, and feedback suggests we may have a problem with how we are being perceived by young people and others who are considering their future work and career opportunities.  Could this be supported by a marketing campaign?

“… we need to be cool again…” – Industry stakeholder at the November 2020 Forum

Understanding the problem

  • Hospitality sector has an identity crisis
  • Lack of interest or resistance to applying due to perceptions/reality of conditions, hours, wages and job security
  • Restrictions and lockdowns took the industry 3 steps back with staff leaving to other sectors



Shifting the message

Hospitality can provide experiences and flexibility to suit a range of work-life needs

  • Travel, flexibility, variety and transferable skills to other career endeavours
  • Abundance of support for skills and training development to suit entry level and qualified positions
  • High demand market need from December 2021 with industry prepared to support the needs of their workers and meet the market

Campaign considerations 

  • Why should people consider working in hospitality now? Who is an ideal candidate?
  • What does industry offer an entry level recruit, what does industry offer a qualified recruit?
  • What are the transferable skills that can take me from hospitality to future career aspirations?
  • If I want a long-term career in hospitality, what does that look like?

What does a campaign look like?

  • Creative – messages, images, tone, call to action
  • Execution – scripts, talent, venues, production
  • Channels – strategy, frequency and duration across radio, social media, tvc
  • Cost – based on all of the above


The Ad Agency Campaign Brief

Media Channels – Social, TV, Radio

Target Market – School leavers, young adults, mothers looking to return to the workforce, older workers and those looking to transition from other industries

Goal – entice as many local people as possible into/and back into the tourism and hospitality workforce in the Northern Rivers

Supporting the communications objective, The Ad Agency covered 3 key areas:

  • Reasons to believe
  • Benefits
  • Brand personality

The idea:  Working in hospitality in Northern Rivers NSW is a great way to get where you’re going in life

Radio script example only –

Are you just finishing up school and excited to see the world?

Or a freed-up parent ready to get back out there and reconnect…

Or someone who just loves bringing smiles to people’s faces…

Whoever you are, and where ever you want to go in life,

working in hospitality in Northern Rivers NSW is a fun & flexible way to get there.

You’ll learn new skills that can take you anywhere in the world and

everywhere in your working life.

If you’re ready to go, we’re ready for you,

connect with Northern Rivers NSW Hospitality, Employment and Training opportunities

finish on call to action

Additional creative was presented for social media and TVC with fantastic feedback from participants to inform ongoing development.

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