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Burton: Speech - Rotorua Tourism Apprentices

8 October 2004 Speech

Hon Mark Burton Speech Graduation Ceremony, Rotorua Tourism Apprentices

Good morning, and congratulations to you all.

I am delighted to be here at this presentation ceremony today. It is a pleasure to recognise the hard work and achievements of those who represent the future of one of New Zealand’s premiere industries— tourism.

The graduates here today are only the second group to achieve these valuable tourism training qualifications. You are part of a new chapter in the industry.

As the “face” of tourism, I know you will find the skills you have gained throughout your apprenticeship training extremely valuable in today’s competitive environment.

These qualifications recognise how essential it is to provide a quality experience to our visitors—the foundation of our industry’s long-term future.

The importance of delivering high quality was emphasised in the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010. We must match our visitors’ expectations with their actual experience of New Zealand.

It has to be about quality, at every level, and for every single guest.

You are an important part of making this happen.

Our front line people are the ones we count on to make the right impression, to be knowledgeable and competent, to go above and beyond in meeting customers’ needs—and to deliver on the promise that brings our guests here.

Each modern apprenticeship delivered by the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO) is a personal success story—a statement of a young person’s commitment to their training, and of their employer’s commitment to them.

As a testament to this we have here today the first modern apprentices to gain three National Certificates in Tourism, the first graduate from the Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand, and the first multiple graduations at one employer, thanks to the efforts of Hells Gate WaiOra Spa.

I believe the Modern Apprenticeships scheme will bring many more such success stories to the tourism industry.

Staff supply and skills are key issues for tourism, as they are for many employers.

New Zealand's strong economic performance (and the lowest unemployment rates in 17 years) means that the sector must compete with other industries to attract enough quality employees to support industry growth. Currently, Ministry of Tourism officials, in partnership with the Tourism Industry Association and Industry Training Organisations (including ATTTO), are conducting a study into the industry’s future work force and skill requirements to 2010.

This work will identify and prioritise the skills we will need, as well as finding present gaps in training to acquire and develop these skills.

Currently, the tourism sector directly and indirectly supports one in eleven jobs. Although our research is only partially complete, early results show that the industry will need an additional 120,000 people by the end of the decade.

For our new graduates here today, this means 6000 new colleagues in the Attractions, Activity, Tours, and Services sector, and 4500 new colleagues in the Transport sector each year.

And that is only if we maintain the market’s current situation. I believe that the New Zealand tourism sector is going to outperform forecasts and meet its almost limitless potential.

We are no ordinary destination. Guests can enjoy adventure tourism, world-class food and wine, a wide range of quality accommodation, wildlife, skiing, and unique cultural events—all set against the backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and diverse landscapes.

Without a doubt, New Zealand has it all.

Interactive Travellers—those well-educated visitors who travel internationally on a regular basis, and quite often sport a relatively high level of discretionary income—these are the guests New Zealand is looking for.

In turn, they are looking for unique, authentic experiences that involve real interaction with both people and environments—the authentic Kiwi experience we can provide.

While both industry and government have focused on building a long-term, sustainable future on the foundation of all that is special about New Zealand, we can never afford to get complacent.

Building a reputation as a high quality destination may take a great deal of time and commitment – but retaining it, in an ever more competitive and discerning world market, will take a great deal more! But that is what we have to do.

It is our responsibility to protect, preserve, and enhance our exceptional natural resources and opportunities – for the benefit and enjoyment of all New Zealanders, and our guests – now, and for future generations.

It is easy for us to forget that it is these very environments, be they natural or made, that so appeal to the high-yield, interactive travellers we seek, the same environments that we so often take for granted.

Our diverse culture is one key component of New Zealand’s competitive advantage in tourism.

Maori values of kaitiakitanga - guardianship of the natural environment and manaakitanga – hospitality and mutual respect between the host and the visitor - are at the heart of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy to 2010.

Increased participation by Maori in tourism will bring a range of benefits, not only through the generation of income and opportunity for Maori communities and individuals, but as a unique point of difference from the rest of the world.

As part of this I would like to congratulate Hells Gate WaiOra Spa, where our first young Maori have completed modern apprenticeships in tourism. This milestone is a key step towards realising the vast potential of our cultural heritage.

But let us not forget that today is a celebration of the achievements of 5 individuals, and today I would like to put a challenge to each one of you.

The future of the industry rests on each and every interaction you have with our visitors.

The quality of the service you deliver reflects on the whole country, not just on individual operators, and as I’m sure you all know, word of mouth advertising is one of the most powerful tools of marketing.

As Minister of Tourism, I sometimes receive letters of complaint from international visitors whose experience of New Zealand and perception of our country is overshadowed as a result of one bad experience.

This shows that while it may seem like a minor incident to most, even the smallest negative experience can impact on our reputation as a tourist destination.

(But no pressure, of course…)

It’s up to each and every member of the sector to continually raise the quality of our products and services. It’s the only way to make sure our tourism industry will continue to flourish in an extremely competitive global market.

You have the skills to deliver a world-class standard of service. You represent the future of New Zealand’s tourism industry, and I congratulate you all on your achievement in being presented with these qualifications today.

I wish you all the very best for your future, and know you will enjoy working in New Zealand’s exciting, dynamic tourism sector.


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