12 Mar 2022

Tourism staffing concerns ahead of border reopening

5:15 pm on 12 March 2022

The Tourism Minister has acknowledged businesses are concerned about staffing ahead of the border reopening, but says support will be there.

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Reefton, West Coast Photo: Tourism West Coast

Government figures for the year to March 2021 showed the number of people directly employed by tourism dropped by an estimated third, from 218,580 people to 146,295 people.

Stuart Nash said a lot of tourism businesses usually relied on overseas workers.

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Tourism Minister Stuart Nash Photo: Dom Thomas

Remote regions like the West Coast had been hit particularly hard by job losses, he said.

"If you had been working in tourism and you've lost your job ... because of Covid, then there's actually not that much other work to do.

"It's the reason why we put in place schemes like Jobs for Nature, which I know has been well taken up on the (West) Coast, and so hopefully there's still the staff there who can move from Jobs for Nature back into tourism."

Working holiday visas and Accredited Employer Work Visas would be up and running in time to allow overseas workers to come in, he said.

"The opening of the border will not be done in isolation of changes to visas or implementation of visas that will allow overseas people to come in and hopefully working in these businesses."

He hoped more New Zealanders would join the industry once the borders reopened.

"There are labour shortages and a lot of good people have exited the industry, and I'm hoping that we can get some of those people back.

"But also that there are people within our communities who recognise the fact that working in tourism can be incredible rewarding and they'll see an opportunity to jump into this industry once the borders do open."

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