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New Zealand tourism operators struggling with staffing

New Zealand tourism operators struggling with staffing
November 18, 2020

A new industry survey has revealed that, even though businesses continue to be impacted by closed borders, staffing is currently major issue for New Zealand tourism operators.

According to a new industry survey by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), just over half (53.23%) of the 318 industry respondents advised that they had reduced staff numbers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, ahead of the usually busy summer season, 60% of respondents have sought to employ additional staff over the past three months, with 45% saying it has been difficult to find suitable candidates.

Released yesterday before an audience of more than 300 tourism leaders and stakeholders at the Tourism Summit Aotearoa in Wellington, it is the third in a series of industry surveys carried out since April, to measure the impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.

Advising that the latest survey shows that operators have got over their initial state of shock and are now resigned to working with what business is available, with an eye to the future recovery,

TIA Chief Executive, Chris Roberts explained “respondents are resolutely staying in business in spite of losing their international customers. Many have been able to expand their offerings to the domestic market. There’s a degree of confidence returning, tempered by the realisation that there are still tough times ahead.”

The responses to questions on staffing suggest that businesses have reached a point where employment levels have stabilised at a new level. Many are now focused on retaining key staff and hiring new people to meet demand.

Roberts added “getting the staff they need is a considerable challenge. The ‘lumpy’ nature of domestic tourism, with demand happening at weekends and school holidays, means many of the roles that need to be filled are part-time and temporary. Some respondents commented that New Zealanders were unwilling to take on roles that were not fulltime and permanent.

“Immigration settings are also highlighted with visas not being renewed for existing employees and no access to overseas workers.”

The survey found that the most important measure needed to help the industry recover is to find ways to open our borders, although operators recognise that a high level of care will be needed and borders should only be reopened when it is safe to do so.

A targeted grants scheme for impacted tourism businesses is also seen as a way the Government can provide further support.

Roberts concluded “looking to the future, there is strong commitment for improvements to the post-COVID tourism industry, with high value and sustainability being seen as important.”

Click here to view the full survey report. 

Image: The Lost Spring Coromandel has previously identified difficulties in finding staff. Credit: The Lost Spring/Facebook.

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