4 Jan 2019

Strong tourism season predicted to heat up recruitment

1:07 pm on 4 January 2019

Tourism operators around the country are bracing for the summer surge.

A hiking girl in new zealand

Photo: 123rf.com

This year the regions have received a helping hand from the government, which unveiled its $8.5 million Responsible Camping Fund earlier this year.

More than 25 council projects around the country received funding to cover facilities, services and educational support in a bid to prepare them for the peak season.

Hassle Free Tours managing director Mark Gilbert said all signs were pointing to a strong summer.

"We're a popular destination and we've got a great reputation around the world as a fantastic place to visit and I think all indicators are looking good, so yeah it should be a really fantastic summer," Mr Gilbert said.

Forward bookings were looking strong for its tours in both Auckland and Christchurch, he said.

The business was seasonal with summer recording the higher number of visitors and that meant hiring additional staff.

"Our workforce would more than double from winter [to] summer so the main things for us is getting out there early, getting the advertising underway and recruiting process and then obviously a huge amount of training before the season kicks off," Mr Gilbert said.

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A record summer is being predicted with domestic tourism at its peak. Photo: 123RF

Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd said the region was looking forward to a bumper summer now that State Highway 1 had been back in action for more than a year.

The closure of the highway hit Marlborough hard as it cut off the easy access between Christchurch and the region.

"We're looking good, everyone is getting prepared. I think we're looking shiny and new, the township has got everything set and ready to go," Ms Lloyd said.

Already the destination was experiencing an increase in visits from people travelling up from Christchurch and more North Island visitors were also venturing over via the ferry, she said.

The Marlborough District Council received $195,000 from the Responsible Camping Fund to go towards upgrading popular car parks and installing temporary toilets and additional signage.

The boost would make a difference this summer, particularly the new signs, Ms Lloyd said.

"It's really making it clear when visitors are coming into those responsible camping sites of what they can and cannot do."

The funding also meant more infrastructure would be in place to support the surge, she said.

However, not all of the sector is feeling as hopeful about the peak summer season.

In Christchurch, All Star Inn manager Phil Leslie said the youth market had slowed down.

"On top of that, Airbnb has been unregulated here in Christchurch. They take a lot of business out of our market as well as hotels," Mr Leslie said.

"It's a tough game at the moment."

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said after a relatively quiet winter he expected a record summer with domestic tourism at its peak.

That put a lot of pressure on operators to find more staff, Mr Roberts said.

About one in eight New Zealand workers are employed either directly or indirectly in the tourism industry.

"Traditionally tourism businesses need to take on extra staff over summer and like some other industries, they're struggling to find people this year," Mr Roberts said.

"That's one concern that we actually have enough staff to deliver the services that visitors and tourists will be looking for."

There were likely to be thousands of vacancies, Mr Roberts said.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis

Kelvin Davis says one of the aims is to direct tourist towards the regions. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced the $8.5 million fund in August in a bid to help councils manage freedom camping.

The use of the fund includes building new shower blocks, rubbish bins and more monitoring.

"We're trying to push them out into the regions so that all of New Zealand benefits from what tourism bring to them," Mr Davis said.

That was where the fund stepped in to help pay for infrastructure and services that regions need to cater for current and projected tourist numbers, he said.

Of the 27 projects announced, 23 would be finished by the new year, Mr Davis said.

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