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Tourism ready to contribute more to New Zealand’s economy



Tourism in New Zealand remains a promising sector for revenue generation (INL Image)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 29, 2023

The tourism industry can offer its employees a positive role in a high-wage, low-emissions economy giving them resilience in good times and bad. However, despite the potential that exists, several systemic challenges affecting the tourism workforce make it difficult for the industry to attract and retain quality employees.

With the December 2022 quarter GDP results setting out a decline of 0.6%, there is real scope for tourism to play a very important role in moving to positive territory, Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram said.

Pre-Covid (year to 31 March 2020) tourism directly contributed 5.6% of GDP and this fell to 3.0% through the Covid period (year to March 31 2022) as the industry focused on domestic tourism alone.

“Now, with international visitors starting to return, we are in a great position to recover the 2.6% of GDP that was lost in the Covid period. If we do this, the future national GDP position will be stronger,” Ms Ingram said.

“The focus now needs to be on removing the roadblocks to the recovery of our diverse tourism industry. While it is great to see international tourism recovering, the tourism industry could be making a greater contribution if pressure on workforce recovery was relieved. Anecdotally, we all hear about businesses that are curtailing their offerings as they simply do not have enough staff.”

“If we can boost the workforce available for our tourism businesses then these businesses will be able to offer more experiences and also extend their opening hours.”

“A key first step is to remove the friction we see in the flow of skilled and valuable workers from overseas and, while this is happening to some degree, TIA wants to see this key constraint addressed so we can quickly realise gains for New Zealand as a whole,” Rebecca Ingram said.

TIA Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram (Photo Supplied)

Roadmap to the future

The government has recently unveiled a roadmap to strengthen the tourism workforce including an employee-sharing pilot between tourism and conservation under a tourism industry transformation plan.

The Tourism ITP is taking a phased approach to the problems and opportunities in the industry, enabling a more focused approach to each phase. The first phase is the Better Work Action Plan – He Mahere Tiaki Kaimahi (to care for people who work in the industry).

Better Work Action Plan

The Better Work Action Plan contains six Tirohanga Hou (new outlook or ways of doing things), which are underpinned by specific initiatives to address these challenges like demand fluctuations, pay and conditions, firm maturity and scale, and the current and future skills gap. It paves the way towards Better Work for people in the tourism industry. The six Tirohanga Hou are- 1. Recognising quality employers and improving employment standards and practices 2. Fit-for-purpose education and training 3. Embrace the flux, and enable the flex 4. Improving cultural competency and ensuring authentic storytelling 5. Lifting technology uptake and innovation to support Better Work 6. Showcasing the great – pathways and people in tourism Together, these form a holistic package of proposals that will bring about positive changes to the tourism industry and lead to a more regenerative and resilient industry of which all New Zealanders can be proud.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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