Go with Tourism – the government-funded initiative to build New Zealand’s tourism & hospitality workforce attracted more than 16,500 visitors during its career expo season.

The number reflects the sum of all five expos held in 2021. The host cities – Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton – all experienced record-breaking numbers this year.

Go with Tourism Programme Director, Matt Stenton, says the numbers are encouraging as the Tourism and Hospitality industries face its worst skills shortage ever. An estimated 80,000 people will be needed by the time New Zealand’s border open.

“We are very proud to be wrapping up our 2021 career expo season with several wins under our belt.

“Not only do we love engaging our rangatahi directly and opening their eyes when it comes to tourism & hospitality careers, but we’ve been able to reach record-breaking numbers of students at a time when the world is against our industry. In fact, we smashed our target attendance of 15,000, with 16,500 visitors in total.

“This, and the rise in registrations to our services, is highly encouraging despite the ongoing stigma and media fearmongering about Tourism & Hospitality careers.

“It was also fantastic to welcome Minister of Tourism, Stuart Nash, to our final expo and show him what Go with Tourism is achieving. We truly appreciate his support.

“Now, we look towards 2022 and delivering a bigger and better expo season in our continued efforts to build New Zealand’s tourism & hospitality workforce.”

“Labour shortage is the hottest topic in the media right now and it’s an undeniable fact our industry is currently struggling with staffing. In view of this, seeing so many people come to our expos and wanting to explore their career options gives me hope that we will claw back talent.

“The feedback we’ve received about our expos has been phenomenal. Not only are teachers and students telling us we’re opening eyes, but we’re hearing words of gratitude and encouragement from community leaders and politicians everywhere we go too. “

Since the expo season began on May 13 in Christchurch, Go with Tourism has seen a 34 per cent increase of Job Connector profiles created and 69 percent increase in registrations through the Pledge A Placement programme.

The numbers aren’t surprising to Stenton. “When people understand the multitude of opportunities and progression available in our industry – once they unlearn what society tells them Tourism & Hospitality work is – we often find that they are interested to be a part of this fantastic industry.

Breaking down long-held negative perceptions of tourism and hospitality careers is an important outcome for Go with Tourism, particularly in secondary schools. Small changes at this level, such as the current NCEA Change Programme which is exploring turning tourism into an achievement standard subject, will make a big impact in the long run.”

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