A year on from New Zealand welcoming back international visitors, tourism businesses are still struggling with staff shortages as they continue to alter their business models and become more sustainable.

Monday will mark a year since New Zealand fully reopened its borders to visitors shut out by pandemic-induced travel restrictions.

GO Rentals chief operating officer James Dalglish said the car hire company was still feeling the repercussions of laying off the majority of its staff during the pandemic as it sought to grow through mergers and acquisitions.

GO Rentals James Dalglish headshot

“Probably the biggest challenge off the back of the pandemic has been workforce,” he said. “When you remove two-thirds of your staff – and in our case, many of them had been with us for five, 10, or 15 years – you lost a whole lot of IP (intellectual property).”

More than half of current staff members have been with the company for less than a year, with recruitment remaining a challenge, he said.

Sudima Hotels chief operating officer Les Morgan also said it had been difficult to find and retain staff over the past year. The hotel brand has seen greater extremes in seasonality in 2023, which has added to the challenges.

International visitor arrivals totalled 160,326 this May, up from 87,600 in May 2022 but down from 359,811 in December, 265,383 in January, 266,883 in February, and 259,014 in March, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

Morgan said Sudima had sought to get back to basics and focus more on domestic and corporate guests in response.

The return of overseas visitors has, however, promoted the company to trial new technologies, such as robots to help out in restaurants and with room service and housekeeping.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Rebecca Ingram said the past year had been a “roller-coaster” for operators, and highlighted “the need to keep adjusting for a different kind of future”.

That said, she feels the pandemic has left the sector in a stronger, more reflective state, but that it will take time to balance recovery and growth with sustainability goals.

“Indications are that we are in for a good second summer of recovery, but we have our eyes set on the longer term also, with much work underway to do our part to make positive impacts on the environment and communities we are part of.”

Dalglish said GO Rentals had rolled out more electric and hybrid vehicles in its efforts to become more sustainable, but many in the industry were still grappling with what it meant to be regenerative businesses that give back to their environments and communities.

“For our company, it means a much greater portion of clean cars across both EV and hybrid options and enabling our customers to undertake greener journeys through Aotearoa.”

tesla vehicle in front of go rentals

Hobbiton general manager of tourism, Shayne Forrest, said the Waikato movie set had looked for ways to improve over the last year, which had been rewarded with “people are coming back much quicker than we anticipated”.

Ingram said she was proud of how the tourism sector had held up “with the support of Kiwis”, adding “We want to make sure we continue to boost Aotearoa New Zealand”.

View the full article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/300939074/tourism-sector-reflects-on-oneyear-anniversary-of-border-reopening

About GO Rentals:

GO Rentals is a Kiwi-owned and operated car rental company. As trusted local experts with 24 years of experience in the travel industry, their focus on technology, innovation, and visitor experience has seen them grow from a small family-owned business to a multi-award winning national brand.

GO Rentals currently has eight branches nationwide, Including Auckland (City and Airport), WaihekeWellingtonNelson, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Dunedin.

Kiwi consumers acknowledged GO Rentals as New Zealand’s favourite car rental provider in 2023. GO Rentals was the clear winner of Canstar Blue’s award for Most Satisfied Customers being the only company to earn a top 5-Star award for Overall Satisfaction.