Hospitality Business Magazine

Our industry is a cornerstone of the NZ economy

By Marisa Bidois, CEO Restaurant Association of New Zealand.

As the new Government takes office, we are initiating discussions with incoming ministers to present our crucial priorities, which we believe are vital for the prosperity and growth of New Zealand’s hospitality sector.

Our industry is a cornerstone of the economy, employing over 135,000 individuals and contributing more than $14 billion annually. We’re at the heart of New Zealand’s tourism, offering diverse culinary experiences that draw tourists from around the globe.

We are still recovering from the difficult trading conditions of the past few years, and our businesses continue to face challenges. However, signs of recovery are emerging and there are fresh shoots of hope. We have already met with some new ministers and have scheduled meetings with others, indicating promising early engagement with the government.

After engaging with our members through consultations and surveys, we’ve identified key concerns that are prevalent among the majority. These issues are outlined below and form the basis of our discussions with Ministers. Our aim is to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of our industry’s landscape and to highlight areas requiring focused attention and action.

We’re urging the new government to recognise our unique needs, separate from the broader tourism and adventure tourism sectors. It’s crucial to reshape the narrative around hospitality to improve its standing and address widespread misconceptions.

Staffing is a pressing issue, worsened by low unemployment rates. We’re advocating for sector-specific immigration policies to facilitate the recruitment and retention of overseas talent, along with simplifying visa applications.

We also emphasise the importance of workplace relations, urging for an industry-led approach to set employment standards and combat exploitative work conditions. Our suggestion includes expanding our HospoCred accreditation scheme to promote transparency and responsible business practices.

Education and training are vital for our industry’s sustainability. We’re calling for investments in sector-led training initiatives and a more cohesive alignment between education and immigration policies to bridge skill gaps.

Small businesses form the backbone of our sector, and we request a review of the regulatory environment to foster growth and productivity. A pragmatic approach to legislative changes is necessary.

Liquor licensing needs a more nuanced approach, reflecting actual harm and supporting business owners in maintaining safe environments.

Lastly, in emergency management, we seek clear legislative frameworks and automatic support mechanisms for businesses impacted by crises, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by customer-facing operations. We believe a collaborative approach between the government and the hospitality sector is essential to ensure our industry not only survives but thrives, contributing significantly to New Zealand’s cultural identity and economy.