How to fly high in business providing FiFo accommodation

Contributed By: Chris Rowe of Accommodation Business Brokers on

With mining booms every few years, the fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in-drive-out (DIDO) market also booms. Those who own accommodation properties in key areas will benefit during the boom times. Townsville is one such location.

About FIFO/DIDO workers

FIFO workers come from all walks of life and operate in most industries. Most FIFO workers fall into the 35-54 years age group. Jobs for FIFO workers are diverse: health worker, road train operator, kitchen worker, metallurgist, mine planning engineer and solar farm workers.

Although FIFO workers exist in many sectors, it’s in mining that the phenomenon has become known. Most mines are located in remote areas or at least near small towns that don’t offer many diversions. So mine operators, in particular, try to sweeten the deal by offering to base workers at a larger town or city and flying them in and out for set periods.

When mining operations ramp up dramatically during the good times, there’s never enough decent accommodation to cater for the large influx of extra workers required. During the last major boom, many workers lived for months at a time in a ‘donga’ that, if you’re lucky, is a demountable or, if you aren’t as fortunate, a shipping container.

Even so, dongas are highly prized. As you can imagine, after a schedule of 12-hour days, usually in punishing heat, it’s good to look forward to a comfortable bed and air conditioning.

Smart accommodation property owners and operators, however, ensure their properties attract other business travellers and holidaymakers, too.

Townsville business and tourism accommodation opportunities

Townsville is an attractive destination for business, education and tourism. As the largest city in North Queensland, it’s the gateway to Queensland mining and agricultural regions as well as to Papua New Guinea and Asia.

When the mining FIFO numbers dwindle, accommodation providers can rely on solar farm FIFO workers or even workers from nearby resort islands (Bedarra, Dunk and Orpheus) visiting for rest and relaxation.

The tropical lifestyle and proximity to Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef are attractive to visitors and potential residents alike.

And besides FIFO or DIDO workers, the city offers many opportunities for accommodation providers.

Average spend on FIFO and DIDO accommodation

In the general region (including Hinchinbrook), average spend for a trip for domestic visitors is $775 for 4 nights. International visitors tend to pay a lower nightly rate but stay longer with an average spend per trip of $860.

Townsville has a wide range of accommodation seekers

James Cook University is home not only to domestic students but also students from overseas. Many of the latter group will be visiting for a short time and need temporary or full-time accommodation. Visiting academics can’t always be accommodated on campus.

CQUniversity offers many courses aimed at overseas students or potential immigrants who need specific qualifications for residency.

Many students, whether from overseas or interstate, are studying for shorter periods and can’t afford to set up a household. Savvy accommodation owners could partner with either institution to offer medium-term accommodation.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is home to the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim), which attracts both interstate and international researchers.

Lavarack Barracks army base, one of the Australian Defence Force’s largest bases, has the potential for partnerships offering short-term accommodation to newly arrived military and their families.

The RAAF Base Townsville is home to several squadrons. As well as combat survival training and overseas deployment, the staff are responsible for search and rescue and humanitarian support. For the latter duties, they’re liaising with members of other organisations – and they need to stay somewhere when they can’t be housed on the base.

Townsville’s emerging film industry and other creative industries – all of which bring visitors and workers to the city – are actively supported by the City of Townsville council.

Backpackers flock to Townsville as the ideal starting point for seeking farm work in Queensland to fulfil their visa obligations if they wish to extend their stay. Most are housed in dedicated backpacker accommodation. However, older backpackers or digital nomads prefer non-dorm accommodation so look to lower-end hotels, motels and guesthouses.

Construction in and around Townsville

The new North Queensland stadium is due for completion in time for the 2020 NRL season. As well as Rugby League games, the stadium will host other sporting, cultural and community events.

In December 2018, approval and funding was granted for the critical Haughton Pipeline duplication. Funding also came through for other infrastructure projects that require specialist workers from out of the region.

Be poised for the next boom

Accommodation providers in Townsville are be perfectly positioned not only to take advantage of everyday opportunities but also to capitalise on the next FIFO/DIDO accommodation boom. Talk to us if you want more information on properties in this exciting region.

1 Comment

  1. Great information. I really appreciate your site Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *