Tourism is New Zealand’s second largest business (after agriculture), with more than 3.6 million visitors heading here in the last year from all around the world, spending almost $15 billion while they’re here.
What’s this all mean? It means lots and lots of jobs for smart young Kiwis in a growing range of really interesting areas. Keen to learn more?
What sort of tourists do we get in NZ?
The tourism industry can be broke up into a number of different areas, and each attracts a different type of visitor here.
- Social tourism - Visiting friends and relations;
- Adventure (active) tourism – NZ has a growing reputation as one of the world’s great adventure tourism destinations;
- Eco or environmental tourism – Checking out the natural marvels of our environment, from thermal areas to mountains full of hobbits.
- Business tourism - Attending conferences and the like;
- Cultural tourism - Seeing how other peoples live, and our Maori culture has long targeted this aspect of travelling.
Where do our tourist visitors come from?
Actually, most of them (over 40%) are from just across the Tasman in Australia. Our next largest market for visitors is China with almost 400,000 coming from there last year. America is next followed by visitors from the UK, Germany and Japan.
Of course we have a huge internal tourism industry too, with New Zealanders actually spending half as much again in the country every year as our international visitors do.
What skills are needed in the tourism industry?
Tourists all over the world want some pretty simple things. Generally they want comfortable, clean accommodation, good service, infrastructure (roads, transport etc) that works, to do things they can’t do at home and and to be treated decently. The more and the better we offer these things, the bigger our tourist industry will be.
- Communication skills:
- Can you get important safety information across, describe what’s on a menu, give directions to another place, make a visitor feel welcome and valued?
- Can you explain things clearly and easily, or in different ways?
- Are you confident speaking to people you don’t know (yet)?
- People skills
- Can you talk to all sorts of people, especially people who are not like you?
- Can you make people happy when you talk to them?
- Can you work well with others or in teams?
- Do you have patience when others can’t follow or understand you?
- Customer Service skills
- Do you get that the customer is (mostly) right?
- Can you talk with confidence about things and stuff you know?
- Do you want to make someone’s experience as good as it can be?
- Do you understand how important good service is?
- Are you confident when giving instructions (like put a lifejacket on in the raft)?
- Can you use your initiative and find solutions to problems for people?
How can you get into the industry?
There are tons of travel and tourism jobs out there, and many of them don’t require specific qualifications. Remember, more than 85% of tourism businesses are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and many have fewer than five staff.
- Start with some work experience
- You can gain a foothold in the industry by getting work experience while you’re still at school, polytech or university. This can give you a taster of life in the tourism area and may help you decide to pursue a career in it.
- You will find plenty of casual work in hotels, motels, theme parks, leisure resorts, bars and restaurants.
- check the websites of places nearby to find out about vacancies, or drop them an email or phone call.
- As well as adding relevant experience to your CV, work experience could even lead to a job offer or the possibility of future work.
- Gain relevant qualifications
- What these are often depends on the job you’re after. There are plenty of qualifications on offer, from certificates and diplomas through to advanced degrees.
- You can study while working, study full time, or train specifically for certain roles depending on what part of the tourism industry you’re interested in.
- A good place to start is with ServiceIQ, the industry training organisation that trains people like you for the tourism, hospitality and retail industries.