Tourism businesses in remote parts of NZ will have better access to workers under proposed new rules.

Tourism industry employers facing staff shortages, particularly over busy peak periods, are on track to benefit from proposed changes to temporary work visas mooted today by the New Zealand government.

Under the plan – on which industry consultations are now underway – the government is aiming to work with tourism industry employers to simplify the framework of the current system to help regional and more remote employers outside of the major cities and tourism hotspots to gain access to workers at peak times. In doing so, businesses in these areas will get easier access to foreign workers to address their existing skills shortages.

In addition, a Regional Skills Shortage list will be introduced on which businesses can register so that their efforts to source more staff can be assisted at higher levels. The plan also seeks to address worker welfare and education as well as introduce sector agreements to create a more robust employment structure for temporary visiting workers.

“We welcome the recognition that there are significant regional differences and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work,” said Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive, Chris Roberts.

Early in 2019, TIA says it plans on releasing a package of initiatives designed to attract more overseas visitors to come to New Zealand for extended periods to work in the tourism industry. These will include extra incentives enabling regional and rural businesses to better compete with New Zealand’s more major cities and tourism centres such as Queenstown.

Part of the government’s plan also involves greater enforcement of the Employer Check program, which seeks to crack down on employers exploiting staff by insisting they work unreasonable extra hours and minimising days off. Roberts said while this measure was welcome, there was a risk that good and ethical employers may be unfairly tarnished by the exploitative activities on the minority.

“Therefore compliance requirements in the Employer Check should be rigorous but not overly burdensome,” Roberts added.

“At first glance, the 12 month accreditation window seems too narrow for those who can demonstrate consistent good practice. We look forward to working with the Government on developing this process so it fits for businesses of all sizes.”