Sadly, recently tourists have complained about being rudely approached by local kids in the Turangi “CBD” demanding money. Not just once or twice. Regularly! Other kids riding bikes have sworn at tourists. The latest was last Sunday with Didymo Dave trying to control their speeding bikes and hoping to change their behaviour by bribing them – with fish n chips. If anyone can do it… But it reminded us of the old TRM Daily Reports we used to churn out – such as the following 2016 report:
Tourism is our biggest industry, but…
Yippee! Tourism is now NZ’s biggest industry. It generates more export revenue than any other.
In small regional towns – little gems like Turangi – this really is BIG news. It is so important because it is also the largest employer.
So the question is being asked: where are the training institutions or schools teaching and preparing kids for employment in tourism?
In all regions, there is concern about meeting the growing need for ‘human resources’ – aka trained staff. New Zealand needs more people trained for careers in tourism and hospitality. Yet Tourism was dropped as an NCEA school subject two (in 2014) years ago?
We are told tourism generates 94,000 jobs in New Zealand (that is probably grossly under-estimated) and will need another 50,000 people in the industry over the next 10 years.
So isn’t it strange that young people cannot study towards qualifications in our biggest, arguably then the most important industry where the range of employment opportunities are on a strong upward curve. Many hotels cannot find suitably qualified staff.
An example is dairy industry studies which demonstrated vocational guidance skill level training would return two to three dollars for every dollar invested, while management training yielded between 10 and 20 times that.
Visitor feedback on NZ’s hosting skills is reasonably consistent. International guests love Kiwi style laid-back, friendly, helpful attitudes but there is also a need for an improved degree of professionalism that can only come from focused training.
So why don’t kids learn about the importance of the tourism industry at school? Maori language, Te Reo, learning is fascinating, but really? It does not qualify or prepare the kids for the real world.
(i.e. When I went to school in the dim dark ages we had to learn Latin…)
New Zealand is increasing investments in tourism infrastructure in anticipation that the growing tourist market will continue to need much more investment. But where is the investment in job training skills at school level? Once they leave school they go on the dole and from then on their mindset is rarely suitable…
One of the tourism challenges is making such investments viable all year-round. There is much to be done in expanding the window by encouraging shoulder – low-season visitors. That is where TRM have been using this blog to encourage more promotion in fly fishing but – so far – not unexpected – nobody has taken any notice.
Comparatively we have to admit, recreational biking is far more sexy and fashionable and popular but it is really only a summer activity.
(I hope you are reading this Paul T – we recently had discussions on the reasons for falling fishing licence sales and lack of interest in fly fishing)
Much of the recent growth in bike trails (called Nga Haerenga – although few understand what that means?) are in remote locations where there are very limited employment opportunities yet the schools still don’t teach tourism basics?
Even the (previous) Prime Minister knew this would happen years ago when he appointed himself as Minister of Tourism. At our tiny end of the tourism scale he practically invented the numerous bike trails by Government investment and promotion in pedal power to drive tourism – 23 great rides over 2,500 km in remote regions to encourage tourists into biking. You understand these are not the serious road cyclists but for more casual off-road “lycra free” recreational tourist fun biking!
Tourist bike trails have and will now become the future economic base of many small struggling heartland rural towns (Turangi?) which would otherwise crumble.
But even bike trails still need suitably educated staff with a basic understanding to cope with the demands and dynamics of the rapidly growing tourism industry.