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Research reveals why young New Zealanders are reluctant to work in tourism

Research reveals why young New Zealanders are reluctant to work in tourism
August 23, 2018

Concerns about poor rates of pay, limited career pathways and low status see many young New Zealanders reluctant to work in tourism according to newly released research.

With tourism now New Zealand’s number one export earner, worth $36 billion annually and directly employs more than 230,000 people, the new research, from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), delves into the minds of New Zealand’s young people uncovering some fascinating insights into what they think about working in tourism and who influences that thinking.

In Auckland alone, projections to 2021 are forecasting a 27% increase in the number of jobs in tourism, with an estimated 76,000 Aucklanders working in the industry within the next three years.

However, with industry concerns growing around skills shortages and with one in eight young people aged under 25 not ‘earning or learning’, ATEED and TIA wanted to understand what New Zealanders, particularly young people, think about working in tourism.

TIA has identified ‘People and Skills’ as being critical to meet the goals of the industry’s Tourism 2025 Framework, developing a supporting strategy which recognised the importance of this issue. It acknowledges that attracting young people to the sector is key to helping alleviate the shortages.

Likewise, the recently launched Destination AKL 2025 strategy, spearheaded by ATEED, has listed getting more young people into a career in tourism as one of the key strategic imperatives towards developing a sustainable visitor economy in Auckland.

Released this week, the nationwide research offers new insights for industry employers and educators so that they can attract more young people, and effectively retain and develop them into sustainable career pathways.

ATEED Chief Executive Nick Hill says as Auckland’s economic development agency, ATEED is charged with supporting the growth of quality jobs across the region, stating “tourism has been enjoying a period of unprecedented growth internationally, creating huge demand for labour across the tourism and hospitality sector and some exciting career opportunities as a result.

“However, while those in the industry know that tourism is a viable and attractive career option, the reality is that many young people and their parents have a contrary view. By understanding what young people think about a future in tourism it will help the sector shape more effective recruitment and retention strategies.”

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says the tourism industry offers a huge range of jobs and career pathways to young people, from frontline customer service roles, to back office business-focused positions. Positions are available in every region, often in locations where few other opportunities exist.

Roberts advises “whatever your passion, you can have your career in tourism. And for the sustainable success of our industry, we need to attract talented young people so that we can offer world-class experiences to our visitors. TIA plans to use the insights from this research to create a strategy to attract young people to pursue career and work opportunities in tourism.

“Tourism has been more successful in marketing New Zealand to visitors than promoting itself as a career destination to young New Zealanders. This now needs to change.”

Key findings from the research included:

• Young people studying and working think tourism is an important part of the economy
• 75% of recent tourism recruits find the industry appealing to work in
• Tourism is growing and there are lots of opportunities
• With no qualifications required, workers can jump straight in
• It’s an experience-based industry so there are opportunities to progress
• Others will think the job is fun, interesting and exciting
• Colleagues are outgoing, passionate and easy-going people representing New Zealand
• Huge variety – workers will not be ‘bored’ or ‘stuck in an office’


• Tourism jobs have average pay 
• Tourism jobs are low-status, anti-social and temporary 
• Limited career pathways
• A tourism career is difficult to imagine. It’s a hard-sell to parents
• At school, tourism is viewed as an easy subject
• Unambitious people go into tourism
• Career advisors aren’t strong tourism advocates.

The findings result from nationwide research with more than 1,700 young people, parents, teachers, and careers advisors taking part in the qualitative and quantitative research.

Insights will be used to develop strategies for industry employers and educators, so that they can attract young people, and effectively retain and develop these young people into sustainable career pathways.

The full insights and reports are available and

Images: The Auckland Tower SkyJump (top), Nick Hill (middle) and team members at Rainbow's End (below).

Related Articles

14th August 2018 - WTTC research shows tourism generated 18% of New Zealand’s GDP in 2017

29th March 2018 - New Zealand tourism industry backs sustainable employment

18th January 2018 - Most New Zealanders have a positive view of tourism

30th November 2017 - Australian tourism workers ‘far too qualified’

28th October 2017 - New ATEED Head of Tourism appointed

17th July 2017 - Skills shortage reaching crisis levels in New Zealand’s service industry

22nd June 2017 - ATEED appoints Nick Hill as new Chief Executive

24th November 2016 - Tourism bringing in dollars and jobs to New Zealand

12th May 2016 - New Zealand tourism set to exceed 2025 growth goal

20th November 2015 - New People and Skills framework to support New Zealand tourism’s growth goals

30th April 2015 - Tourism and hospitality industries must offer world class service to thrive

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