16 Jul 2020

Tourism school enrolments rise despite Covid-19 effects on industry

5:03 pm on 16 July 2020

Tertiary students have faith in the tourism industry's future, despite the blow dealt to the sector by Covid-19.

Paragliding over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Photo: 123RF

Enrolments at the New Zealand School of Tourism (NZST), which has seven campuses throughout the country, are up 13 percent in the past three months, over the year earlier.

NZST chief executive Kylie Wilson said it was a relief students were still interested in a career in tourism, as she feared some would be turned away by the severe downturn.

"Students are showing the vote of confidence in the industry, they are not thinking doomsday, they are thinking the industry will be able to get back on its feet."

She said the increase in enrolments came from a mix of current students, who wished to extend their studies, as well as new students.

"It's a well known trend across the tertiary sector that people will choose study over unemployment [during an economic downturn]."

She said students felt the industry would have rebounded by the time they graduate.

"Most of our students will sign up and will stay with us for two years, the people who are with us now aren't going to graduate until 2022.

"The industry will look very different in that time based on all the work that is going on in terms of the rebuild."

Students also had the restrictions on overseas visa holders entering the country working in their favour.

Wilson said last there year there were more than 15,000 temporary work visas approved for tourism and hospitality jobs.

"Obviously, there might not be 15,000 jobs available but will there will still be a gap... as businesses start to get back on their feet."

The New Zealand School of Tourism has between 1500-2000 equivalent full time students.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said he was confident students graduating in 2022 would find work but said people graduating this year may struggle.

Like Wilson, Roberts expected a shortage of workers in the future.

"It's likely that we'll have fewer migrant workers in the country in the next year or two, many of those here now are being encouraged to go home and no new migrants are coming in.

Roberts said when businesses begin to re-hire workers there would be demand for New Zealander's who are qualified.

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