The busy citrus harvest is in full swing in, but some people are concerned that high numbers of seasonal workers in the Riverland area is becoming a thing of the past. Consequently hostel beds are going empty.
Adelaide hostel owner, Dr Trevor Anderson, said on ABC News that he’s concerned the slump in backpacker figures will continue. Many in the industry are facing low occupancy numbers, which has meant he is unable to assist farmers and labour contractors to source seasonal workers.
“We act as a bit of a de facto employment agency and there’s always people asking for potential employees and at the moment they’re struggling to fill them,” said Anderson.
“There was one request that came in for 100 backpackers to pick oranges in Renmark, that came in about a week ago and we literally had one person in the place that we could point to that. Previously we would have had 10 or 15.”
“When you get data that says that everybody else is doing fine and South Australia is suffering from as significant a decline as it is, then you have to ask what South Australia is doing differently.”
Tourism Research Australia has reported backpacker visitor numbers to South Australia dropped by 10 per cent in 2014 and some fruit picking jobs are not being filled.