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Hospitality crisis ongoing

SOUTH-WEST cafes and restaurants are facing a critical staff shortage despite the high unemployment rate, with owners struggling to find enough workers to fill shifts.

Halls Gap Raccolto Pizzeria owners, Carly and Richard Flecknoe have been operating for a little over five years and said finding staff had been particularly difficult in the current climate.

“We found some issues in getting hospitality staff ever since we opened five years ago, but it’s worse now more than ever,” Ms Flecknoe said.

“It has been particularly hard to find a good chef but it’s difficult to find capable staff in regional areas.

“Front of house is also a challenge to get quality staff that want to be pursuing a career in hospitality.”

The hospitality sector relies heavily on workers from overseas, most of which returned home last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Halls Gap attracts lots of backpackers and they usually stay here and work in many of the hospitality venues, and now that workforce has completely disappeared,” Ms Flecknoe said.

“It has been really noticeable over this summer period.”

Ms Flecknoe said many hospitality workers may had quit the industry altogether.

“Many people see hospitality as unstable, especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns when we were forced to close for dine-in,” she said.

“People left the industry all together.”

The shortage is so critical, hospitality venues across Halls Gap and Hamilton have had to reduce their opening hours, despite high demand for bookings.

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