Strong tourism message for conference
Sector vital for economy
Hosting about 550 career advisers and professionals in town from today, Queenstown Resort College chief executive Charlie Phillips is keen to push tourism as a serious career vocation. And he has some serious support. Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is speaking at the annual Careers and Transition Education conference on Friday and will be reminding delegates that tourism is one of New Zealand’s largest export industries. ‘‘Around one in 10 New Zealanders is employed in the tourism sector, and it contributes more than $23 billion to the New Zealand economy each year. ‘‘We need skilled and motivated people to provide the excellent service our visitors deserve and demand, and to create innovative experiences for new markets. We can no longer rely only on the beauty of our land and the friendliness of our people.’’ he said in pre-conference comments. ‘‘Queenstown’s workforce reflects the number of highly skilled positions available in the tourism sector.’’ Mr Phillips said tourism had suffered under the false impression that it provided jobs while people decided what to do. ‘‘Our message is that tourism is a serious career option,’’ he said. Ngai Tahu Tourism southern region general manager David Kennedy said no-one explained to him when he started work as a porter in Queenstown at the age of 20 that he could make a career in the industry. He left before returning Queenstown and tourism. Since then, career training had become much more structured, the industry had become more focused on training and recruitment and tourism was more recognised for its contribution to employment and the country’s economy, he said. Now he had about 80 staff working for Shotover Jet, Dart River and the Hollyford Track during peak season. The industry suffered from waves of availability of good recruits, he said. ‘‘We essentially look for strong personalities that are passionate about their job and New Zealand and Queenstown.’’ Other speakers at the conference include television personality and clinical psychologist Nigel Latta, and former Education Minister, now Massey University Vice Chancellor, Steve Maharey.
Serious career: Ngai Tahu Tourism’s David Kennedy and Queenstown Resort College chief executive Charlie Phillips ahead of this week’s Careers and Transition Education conference, in Queenstown.