Thursday, June 13, 2024

Lift for Kiwi ski season workforce

Winter tourism is set to get a lift following a Government decision to allow 275 experienced workers to enter the country to support businesses operating ski fields and snow sports destinations.

The new immigration provisions for the ski sector will kick in just as New Zealand prepares to welcome the first Australian arrivals tomorrow.

“We can’t wait to welcome the first Australian tourists as we reconnect to the world,” said Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash.  

“Our border reopening comes at the perfect time for the Australian school holidays and will further spur our economic recovery, especially for workers, businesses and communities who rely on international visitors.

“We know that once the ski and snow sports season starts around June many of our trans-Tasman neighbours will be the first to hit the slopes to look for winter adventure.

“Winter is traditionally the quietest time for international visitors but it is peak excitement on the mountains as snow tourism comes to life. Australian visitors will be hugely important during the ski season.

“We have made an exception to usual border rules so the ski industry can recruit much-needed snow sports instructors, ski patrol and safety specialists, snow grooming and snowmaking machinery operators, and ski lift and snow sport technicians.”

He said Tourism New Zealand had worked alongside employers and businesses in the nation’s winter holiday destinations to help them reconnect to the world.

“This immigration decision is the direct result of a partnership between government and industry.”

“Ski field and snow sports destinations need more skilled technicians and experienced workers to ensure the operational safety of winter resorts, so that visitors not only have a great time, but are well looked after.

“These are highly skilled roles that require professional qualifications, and where experience has been gained over several seasons on the global ski circuit in places like Europe and North America. 

“A lift technician, for example, needs a trade specific-qualification in mechanical or electrical engineering, or a specialisation in aerial ropeway machinery. They need at least two years’ relevant post-qualification work experience, and be specialised as either a cable splicer, diesel mechanic, ropeway lift mechanic or electrician.

“Kiwis fill the majority of ski field and snow sports roles. However there are not enough locals with the required skills, certification or experience to meet seasonal short-term needs.”

The Minister said the ski industry had been working hard to future-proof its workforce and attract more Kiwi workers through initiatives like meeting the costs of training and qualifications, and staff benefits like accommodation and transport.

“But training and qualifications take time. Tourism New Zealand is also working alongside the ski sector and winter destinations to attract more people here for a winter working holiday through the See You at the Bottom marketing campaign.”

“Immigration NZ has now approved around 3,500 new Working Holiday Visas for young people from Europe and North America since re-opening the scheme just one month ago, on top of the 18,000 Working Holiday visas which were extended.

“Pre-pandemic, around 160,000 Australians visited in winter 2019. During the winter months of June to August 2019, Australian visitors spent more than $211 million, around 40% of all spending by international tourists.

“It’s great to welcome our Aussie mates back this week, and we expect that once ski season starts in June many will head straight to the slopes for an exhilarating Kiwi break,” said Mr Nash.

As part of the class exception to the immigration rules, the ski sector has agreed to pay at least the median wage of $27 an hour for these roles. This is in line with the requirements of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa which comes into effect on 4 July.

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