Are Kiwis ready to reward and encourage great service?

LETTER

Will New Zealanders have to give up an ingrained attitude and start tipping to help the country’s biggest industry, tourism?

That is a possibility after the new Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said: “If you receive excellent service, you should tip.” In doing so she went against a long-standing view that we do not tip in this country, and sparked a firestorm in social media.

The issue is that the tourism industry, which actually employs 7.5 percent of our permanent workforce, has problems attracting staff. The main reasons are low wages and long hours, many of them late into the night or at weekends and holidays. Migrants are filling the gap.

Studies show that the average wage for hospitality workers sits 20 percent above the minimum wage, whereas in 1979 it was nearly twice as high.

Head of the hospitality department at AUT David Williamson says migrant workers are masking an employment crisis for the industry.

The Government is looking at reviewing the skill levels required for working visas and if the basic requirements are raised, some of those who are at present eligible and filling jobs in the tourism industry will drop off.

Labour leader Andrew Little has said he wants to see more Kiwis in these types of jobs but there is a problem in that many young New Zealanders do not see the industry as attractive and baulk at the hours involved.

While this is the main challenge faced by an industry that earned $34.7 billion in the year to March 31, 2016, there are others . . . like continuing calls for a tourist tax at the border, and the push for a bed tax in Auckland reportedly having dampened the enthusiasm of investors looking at building the new hotels the industry badly needs in that city.

While many others around the world accept the need to tip hospitality staff who rely on this for part of their income, most New Zealanders avoid even looking at tipping jars on counters. Perhaps it is time for a shift to helping support hospitality workers, and encouraging great service, by tipping where it is warranted.

Will New Zealanders have to give up an ingrained attitude and start tipping to help the country’s biggest industry, tourism?

That is a possibility after the new Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said: “If you receive excellent service, you should tip.” In doing so she went against a long-standing view that we do not tip in this country, and sparked a firestorm in social media.

The issue is that the tourism industry, which actually employs 7.5 percent of our permanent workforce, has problems attracting staff. The main reasons are low wages and long hours, many of them late into the night or at weekends and holidays. Migrants are filling the gap.

Studies show that the average wage for hospitality workers sits 20 percent above the minimum wage, whereas in 1979 it was nearly twice as high.

Head of the hospitality department at AUT David Williamson says migrant workers are masking an employment crisis for the industry.

The Government is looking at reviewing the skill levels required for working visas and if the basic requirements are raised, some of those who are at present eligible and filling jobs in the tourism industry will drop off.

Labour leader Andrew Little has said he wants to see more Kiwis in these types of jobs but there is a problem in that many young New Zealanders do not see the industry as attractive and baulk at the hours involved.

While this is the main challenge faced by an industry that earned $34.7 billion in the year to March 31, 2016, there are others . . . like continuing calls for a tourist tax at the border, and the push for a bed tax in Auckland reportedly having dampened the enthusiasm of investors looking at building the new hotels the industry badly needs in that city.

While many others around the world accept the need to tip hospitality staff who rely on this for part of their income, most New Zealanders avoid even looking at tipping jars on counters. Perhaps it is time for a shift to helping support hospitality workers, and encouraging great service, by tipping where it is warranted.

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Manu Caddie - 2 years ago
Given tourism contributes only around 5 percent of employment and GDP but 16 percent of foreign exchange earnings to New Zealand, and the spend per visitor has been declining, there is an argument for clipping the ticket at every opportunity.
With around 20 percent of the New Zealand tourism industry owned by foreign companies and a billion dollars a year flowing offshore through those companies, there is plenty of room for the industry to pay its workforce better rather than trying to establish a culture of tipping in the hospitality industry (that accounts for only about a quarter of tourism revenue, most of it is on transport).
I'd prefer to see the visitor ticket clipping going to conservation efforts as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment suggested this week - charge visitors a real fee for going into the conservation estate and we might be able to increase the DoC budget to prevent the extinction of more bird species when 4 out of 5 are in real danger of disappearing.

Bon - 2 years ago
No!!! If you don't get a fair wage from the beginning you shouldn't start there, that's the only way to make employers bring up wages. If you take a job with low wages, expect a small pay cheque.

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