Tourism workforce development programme ends

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, the region’s economic and cultural agency, has farewelled one of its key programmes of work, Go with Tourism, which was unsuccessful at securing additional funding to continue past October 2023.

The programme, which specialised in growing Aotearoa New Zealand's tourism and hospitality workforce was developed and launched by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s legacy organisation Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) – the region’s former economic development agency – to address skills shortages across the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland region.

Nick Hill, Chief Executive of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited says since launch, Go with Tourism has played a pivotal role in building Auckland and New Zealand’s tourism workforce.

“Go with Tourism reached great heights through its dedicated team, initially based in Tāmaki Makaurau and then across Aotearoa when the programme expanded nationwide. We’d like to thank the incredible people who have worked on this unique project to place thousands of people into tourism and hospitality roles, hundreds of students into work placements and with mentors, as well as reaching more than 200,000 rangatahi through school visits and collaborative career events.”

Four months after launching in April 2019, the Government announced the initiative would receive $5.2 million from the International Visitor and Conservation Levy (IVL) to expand the programme nationwide. In October 2022, the programme was awarded an additional $2 million from the IVL to continue its work. 

Nick Hill says the programme, which found its origins in ATEED’s Tourism Youth Perceptions research, also played an important role supporting the tourism sector through the challenges of COVID-19.

“When the global pandemic hit it forced Go with Tourism to temporarily shift its strategy to redeploying displaced tourism and hospitality workers into other jobs. By July 2020, the team returned to their original mandate achieving incredible wins for the sector, partnering with thousands of businesses and establishing itself in classrooms around New Zealand.”

Annie Dundas, Head of Visitor Economy at Tātaki Unlimited says the end of Go with Tourism is a loss for New Zealand’s tourism sector, which plays an important role in the nation’s economy.

“While tourism contributed an estimated NZ$15 billion in GDP to the New Zealand economy in the year ending March 2020, there’s still a real need for supportive national policies and programmes to help the sector achieve its full potential. Go with Tourism, which benefited from government funding, played an important role in educating people on tourism career options and opportunities, and promoting tourism as a career of choice. We hope to see industry, educators and government continue to collaborate and support crucial efforts to rebuild the sector’s workforce,” says Annie Dundas.

Annie Dundas says the achievements of the Go with Tourism team, most recently led by Programme Director Heidi Gillingham, are outstanding and the programme ending is not a reflection of the quality of their work.

“We are extremely sad to farewell Go with Tourism’s tight-knit and high achieving team of nine people, led by Heidi Gillingham, who was recently announced as a finalist in the 2023 Emerging Tourism Leader Award category of the New Zealand Tourism Awards. We wish Heidi and the team all the best for the future.”

Rebecca Ingram, Chief Executive of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, the industry body representing all sectors of New Zealand's tourism industry, says it was very disappointing to hear that Go with Tourism’s funding wasn’t continued.

“Workforce remains a major issue for many tourism businesses and the wind down of Go with Tourism is a loss for the tourism sector, putting further impetus on delivery of the Better Work Action Plan – the first phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan which focuses on enabling better work for the tourism industry.

“Go with Tourism had a positive impact, placing thousands of people in new roles, work placements and mentorships, and did excellent work promoting tourism as a career. We commend the Go with Tourism team for being passionate advocates for tourism.”

Tourism Industry New Zealand Trust, of which Tourism Industry Aotearoa is the trust manager, now holds Go with Tourism assets and intellectual property and will continue to promote tourism as a career for young people.