Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The future of the New Zealand tourism workforce: 2035

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Version 1 2021-11-22, 23:36
posted on 2023-09-22, 02:14 authored by Petersen, Laura

Imagining the future is a tantalising thought, considering that we will never truly know what lies ahead. Despite this inability, envisioning the future has not remained trapped in the realm of mere science fiction fantasies, but is increasingly attempted by organisations, academics and governments. This thesis uses scenario planning to ask what will the future of the New Zealand tourism workforce look like in the year 2035. Scenario planning, as a method of futures studies, is an increasingly popular approach to envisioning the future and draws upon key drivers of change in the present to formulate plausible future scenarios. This provides decision makers with a space for discussion and stretches their thinking through rich storylines. This thesis adds valuable insight to both areas of workforce planning, and New Zealand’s valuable tourism industry and its workforce. It takes an alternatively qualitative scenario approach to holistically explore this topic.  The year 2035 was chosen to push the current industry discussions around the Tourism 2025 strategy even further into the future. A modified Delphi method guided the research, based on a similar scenario planning study by Solnet, Baum, Kralj, Robinson, Ritchie, and Olsen (2013) which focused on the tourism workforce of the Asia-Pacific region. This method adds truthfulness to the research and involves three rounds of surveys that draw upon the knowledge and consensus of experts within the tourism and workforce fields in New Zealand. From a list of ten drivers, immigration policies and the growing Asian market emerged as the most important and formed the basis for the four alternative future scenarios. “Manaakitanga is Found Here” presents a world of closed immigration and a niche Asian tourist market, where the workforce relies on, and celebrates, local knowledge and culture. “Pick of the Labour Crop” encourages a flexible workforce for private profit within open immigration settings with a niche Asian market. “Struggling for Respect” warns of a future where tourism lacks national strategic importance with a struggling workforce, amongst closed immigration policies and a mass Asian market. Finally, “Cheap and Plentiful” explores how open immigration and a mass Asian market could push a flexible workforce and a cheaper tourism product, which damages the country’s industry and image.  The study reveals that some scenarios are more desirable than others, but regardless of which scenario unfolds, they each present various challenges and opportunities for the workforce.They emphasis the unpredictable nature of the future and stress the importance of flexibility in order to respond and adapt to changes. They also highlight the necessity of seeking a balanced solution for the workforce and striving for a quality tourism product that respectfully integrates our Māori culture.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Commerce

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Smith, Karen