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Fact vs fiction: Which tourism news stories are actually true?

Posted on 01/04/2021 by

New Zealand’s tourism industry is a topic of hot debate. But which stories are actually true?

As New Zealand passes its one year anniversary of closing the borders and locking down, the news has been spending a lot of time reporting on, and speculating about, the tourism industry.

Of course, with the borders closed and no international tourists coming in, tourism operators have not enjoyed the same level of business as they usually would. But that’s not to say tourism is dead, or that it will never return, or that those working in the industry are completely out of luck, or even that those who want to get into the industry should think otherwise.

There’s simply a lot of half-truths and overly negative press coverage at the moment, and we’d like to offer a more positive point of view and set the record straight!

Here are a few of the not-quite-true news stories – and the real truth.

  1. Tourism is dying

Oh, rubbish.

Tourism has had a challenging year, but recent news articles have been talking about it like it’s the last Blockbuster store in the country (that was a store where you could hire DVDs and video cassettes before the age of Netflix and streaming!).

Tourism is seeing a dip, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s far from dying.

In February, Air New Zealand announced that it has one of the most active domestic travel networks in the world, and that it was operating at roughly 85% of pre-Covid levels. Not to mention, this is at a time when the numbers of international visitors is usually the highest.

That’s probably because so many Kiwis are taking the chance to explore their own backyard and support local tourism operators. In October last year, a Tourism New Zealand survey found that 71% of Kiwis were looking to take a domestic holiday within the next 12 months.

And with a travel bubble with Australia on the horizon and a vaccination programme well underway, the future of New Zealand tourism is only looking up.

  1. Tourism isn’t a great career choice

Tell that to the 10% of New Zealanders who work in tourism.

According to the Tourism Industry Association, the industry directly employs more than 225,000 people, and indirectly employs another 158,000. That’s more than 10% of all employed people in New Zealand, which would suggest that tourism is a perfectly legitimate (and also incredibly fun, rewarding, and interesting) career choice.

For countless Kiwis, tourism is a wonderful industry where they can meet people, travel, learn new skills, and help both other Kiwis and international visitors discover what makes our country so great.

With opportunities as diverse as being a travel guide, a hotel manager, a flight attendant, a travel agent, or a customer service rep, there’s no limit on the kinds of roles someone interested in tourism could take.

But don’t just take it from us. We asked Sam Peate, General Manager of NZ Coachlines & Auckland Tourism for Entrada Travel Group, about his career in the tourism industry.

“My tourism career started when I was at school, working on weekends as a car cleaner for a rental vehicle company as a way to earn pocket money. As I progressed through to university, I began working on the front desk, renting out the cars and showing people how to use their campervans. I got such a buzz from meeting people having amazing holidays in New Zealand that I decided that this was the industry for me.” 

“My tourism career has spanned cleaning cars, and renting them out; taking reservations for package holidays, and designing and pricing them … and much, much more. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work in amazing places like London, LA and Queenstown selling and promoting the amazing tourism experiences that New Zealand has to offer – plus I’ve worked with lots of amazing colleagues, just as passionate about “Destination NZ” as I am, many of whom have become close friends.”

  1. There are no tourism jobs

 Right now, there aren’t a lot of tourism jobs for unskilled workers, that’s certainly true.

That said, the industry is crying out for skilled, qualified staff who can step into a role without needing months of training to get them up to speed.

Late last year, a Tourism Industry Association press release revealed that as many as 60% of tourism operators had been looking to hire new staff, and that 45% of operators had actually struggled to fill those roles with “suitable candidates”.

TIA Chief executive Chris Roberts said that while operators were well aware of the challenges of the past year, they have been staying in business and have often managed to pivot to meet the increased demand from Kiwis exploring their back yard.

“Respondents are resolutely staying in business in spite of losing their international customers. Many have been able to expand their offerings to the domestic market,” he explained.

We are also seeing a large number of skilled tourism roles come available, and both of our Employment Consultants are busy helping graduates find jobs.

“There are plenty of options within the tourism industry as well as hospitality opportunities all over NZ right now with more and more vacancies appearing daily. There are tourism destinations crying out for people, where they have lost people on working visas that have been repatriated. I have seen some outstanding Airline and domestic Travel Agency roles  advertised which is very encouraging to see,” explains ITC Employment Consultant Nicky McCutcheon.

  1. There are no prospects for future work in the industry

One hundred years ago, the world suffered the dual tragedies of the First World War and a flu pandemic, but once the war was over and the pandemic had passed, the world entered a time that became known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ for its economic boom and prosperity as people collectively celebrated life in the wake of hardship.

Now, we can’t predict the future, but we do know that millions of people – both here in New Zealand and around the world – are counting down the days until things open back up and we can travel, gather together, take tours, and simply enjoy life to its fullest once again.

For that, we’ll need skilled tourism workers – and lots of them.

Once the borders truly open again and the world gets back on its feet, millions will be on the move, and they will all need tour guides, travel agents, hotel staff, airline workers and much more to help make that happen.

With vaccination programmes rolling out around the world, it seems to only be a matter of time before those future prospects are looking brighter than ever.

  1. I can’t get into the industry

This one is easy – anyone with a bit of passion and determination can get into the tourism industry, and we happen to know a thing or two about it.

When students study with ITC, they learn invaluable skills and knowledge that opens doors all over the country and the world. Many tourism operators here in New Zealand have a deep appreciation for our students, knowing that they are always well trained and ready to get started.

Not to mention, we have a dedicated team of employment consultants who work with our graduates to support them as they enter the industry. We often connect past students with opportunities here and overseas, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can absolutely find a spot in the industry with the right qualifications.

“We are incredibly excited about the amount of travel, tourism and now aviation jobs coming through and we are working closely with a number of graduates, so they are ready to apply the minute they see a position they are keen on. CVs need to be better than ever and a generic CV or cover letter just doesn’t cut the mustard, so we are instilling confidence in our graduates to showcase just how amazing they really are,” says ITC Employment Consultant Sarndra Stephens.

The truth is that although of course the tourism industry has faced a big hurdle over the past year, it is also mid-way through the jump over it. New Zealand has done incredibly well in dealing with the virus, and managed to protect the industry from the worst case scenario, and with vaccines, a travel bubble with Australia, and potentially even open borders on the horizon, the industry is certainly stronger than what a lot of recent news would suggest. 

And if you’re considering taking the first step into an industry that’s only about to get stronger, now’s the time, and ITC is the place.

Campus Study – 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or

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