Summary: He Mahere Tiaki Kaimahi – Better Work Action Plan

This is a summary of the Better Work Action Plan, which aimed to address key systemic challenges affecting the tourism workforce that make it difficult for the industry to attract and retain quality employees.

This is the web version of the summary of the Better Work Action Plan. You can download the PDF version of the summary and full Better Work Action Plan below:

Why Better Work?

The Better Work Action Plan (Action Plan) was part of the first phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan that aims to transform tourism in Aotearoa New Zealand towards a regenerative model – one that gives back more than it takes from people, communities, and the environment.

The Action Plan was created in partnership and sought to address key systemic challenges affecting the tourism workforce that make it difficult for the industry to attract and retain quality employees. The initiatives in the Action Plan have sought to pave the way towards Better Work for people in the tourism industry and will help to deliver better outcomes for employees, businesses, and visitors.

For people working in tourism to thrive, their surrounding environment must also be healthy

4 key systemic challenges for the tourism workforce

Leaders from the tourism industry, unions/workers, government, and Māori worked together, as part of the Better Work Leadership Group (Leadership Group), to find these solutions, which are both practical and transformational.

The Leadership Group identified the 4 key systemic challenges for the tourism workforce as:

Better Work Action Plan challenges

Demand fluctuations

The seasonal nature of tourism can lead to workers lacking job security and being underutilised or overworked.

Pay and conditions

Low pay and poor conditions can be a barrier to attracting and retaining a stable workforce.

Firm maturity and scale

Many tourism businesses lack the scale, systems and capacity to effectively manage human resources, and to invest in workers’ training and development.

Current and future skills gap

Tourism struggles to attract and retain people with the skills the industry needs, particularly from a domestic workforce, and does not sufficiently invest in training for both current and future needs.

Our 6 Tirohanga Hou to overcome these challenges

The Action Plan contained 6 Tirohanga Hou, meaning ‘new pathways’. They are underpinned by 14 initiatives to address these challenges to bring about positive changes to the tourism industry and lead to a more regenerative, high value and resilient industry.

1. Recognising quality employers and improving employment standards and practices

The establishment of a Tourism and Hospitality Accord will enable both workers and consumers to identify businesses that meet a set of voluntary standards relating to decent pay, appropriate training and career progression, and a safe and supportive work environment.

The Accord aims to ‘lift the middle’ creating a positive movement, leading directly to better work outcomes that benefit employees and employers.

Challenges addressed

  • Pay and conditions 
  • Firm maturity and scale 
  • Current and future skills gap


  • Establish a Tourism and Hospitality Accord

2. Fit-for-purpose education and training 

There are a number of priority areas to improve the education and training system and make it more fit-for-purpose for the current and future tourism industry. A stronger channel of communication between the industry itself and the education ecosystem will support this outcome.

These changes will help equip the tourism workforce to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving industry and help deliver a regenerative tourism system.

Challenges addressed

  • Pay and conditions 
  • Current and future skills gap


  • Stronger partnership between key peak industry bodies and Ringa Hora
  • Design/develop a new tourism qualification(s)

3. Embrace the flux, enable the flex 

The seasonality of tourism demand leads to fluctuations in the availability of work, across seasons, weeks and days. This can be beneficial and desirable for many as it allows flexibility and diversity of work, but for some, fluctuation impacts the perception of the industry as a viable career path.

There is an opportunity to support entities to collaborate with each other (within and across sectors), and work with the industry's seasonality to retain and attract more people to work in the industry.

Challenges addressed

  • Demand and fluctuations 
  • Current and future skills gap


  • Conduct a tourism conservation employee-sharing pilot building on the benefits of the Jobs for Nature programme
  • Undertake a systems analysis of barriers to employee-sharing models of work
  • Explore options for clearer long-term immigration settings

4. Improving cultural competency and ensuring authentic storytelling 

Improving cultural competency will enable organisations to tell more authentic stories and will build a workplace culture for employees where their cultural values (including te ao Māori values and other cultures) are understood and respected, in order to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces in the longer term.

Challenges addressed

  • Pay and conditions 
  • Current and future skills gap


  • Pilot programme to build cultural competency through regional resources

5. Lifting technology uptake and innovation to support Better Work 

Innovation and the adoption of technology are key to lifting productivity, offering better work, and enhancing the value of the tourism offering.

There are a range of opportunities to increase adoption of technology across the industry, to boost business efficiencies and/or lead to better work, as well as to stimulate more innovation.

Challenges addressed

  • Pay and conditions 
  • Firm maturity and scale 


  • Develop Digital Boost tourism and hospitality content
  • Expo/trade shows to showcase existing and emerging technologies to the tourism industry
  • Encourage more utilisation of business support tools and resources
  • Accelerator programme for innovation in tourism
  • Innovation in tourism business models, to support purpose-led, and intergenerational objectives

6. Showcasing the great – pathways and people in tourism 

While most of the Better Work Action Plan focuses on delivering change, there are numerous positive stories already of people with fulfilling careers in tourism.

Showcasing and celebrating the diverse career pathways, points of entry for careers in tourism, the variety the industry has to offer, and positive employee and business experiences through public campaigns and engagement will help attract more workers to the industry.

Challenges addressed

  • Current and future skills gap 


  • A public campaign to showcase Better Work
  • Build on the success of Go with Tourism to continue to attract workers to the sector

Our vision for Better Work

This plan aimed to pave the way for a future where:

  • Those who work in tourism are consistently treated well and can easily identify which businesses to work for and where they’ll find rewarding work.
  • Businesses are driven by purpose and values, and contribute to a regenerative tourism system with thriving, engaged employees.
  • Businesses make better use of emerging technologies.
  • The tourism workforce is regarded as one of the most culturally competent workforces.
  • Entities within tourism collaborate with each other, and with other industries, to embrace opportunities presented by peaks and troughs of consumer demand.
  • Tourism is recognised as a sector which provides skills for life, and where there are many ways to learn.
  • Tourism is recognised for its capable and knowledgeable leaders, operators, and owners.
  • People are proud of working in the sector, and it is an industry that people want to work in.
  • Tourism is able to welcome all people into the industry - not only those who are gender and ethnically diverse, but also people starting out in their careers and older/returning workers, people living with disabilities, and workers who are seeking flexibility.
Last updated: 23 February 2024