New Zealand’s fast growing tourism industry is pleased the Government has listened to its concerns about the proposed changes to temporary work visas.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Chris Roberts says the temporary work visa changes announced by the Government today will be a relief to many tourism and hospitality employers who are struggling to find suitably qualified New Zealanders to fill vacancies.

“TIA’s submission stressed that the proposed visa changes could stifle the tourism industry’s growth potential by making it more difficult for employers to hire essential staff. Simply tightening immigration settings should not be done without first addressing the lack of suitably qualified New Zealanders, particularly in popular visitor destinations with small resident populations like Franz Josef or Te Anau,” Roberts said.

“While we don’t have a precise measure for how many migrants are employed in tourism, we do know that places like Queenstown rely heavily on working holiday makers and Essential Skills Visa holders to fill vacancies ranging from chefs and wait staff to outdoor adventure guides and baristas. There are acute staff shortages in some popular tourism hotspots, remote destinations and at peak times of the year.

“Tourism needs both lower-skilled and higher-skilled staff. You can’t manage a business back of house, if there’s nobody to work front of house.”

TIA is pleased to see the Government plans to develop ‘a framework for further targeting of immigration settings by sectors and regions’. Tourism must be recognised as a key sector requiring migrant workers within this framework according to Roberts.

“Our submission said the Government needs to take into account the substantial differences between local and regional economies, and labour markets. We look forward to working with immigration officials to define the needs of each region and sector of tourism.

“We also want to see WINZ work more closely with the tourism industry on how to identify and place the right New Zealand candidates into positions.”