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Migrant and foreign skills and their relevance to the tourism industry

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The increasing diversity of both tourists and workers in the tourism industry mean there is a greater need for those people in the tourism industry to possess skills to manage this diversity. In particular, the inherent nature of service transactions and the growing competitiveness of destinations and businesses require foreign skills to be a necessity.

This research investigated the perceived relevance of foreign skills to employees in the New Zealand tourism industry. In order to discover whether a relationship existed between the value placed on foreign skills and a tourism business's success at selling services overseas a survey was sent out to businesses in one of six sectors of the tourism industry (hotels; backpacker accommodation; information centres; duty free stores; regional tourism authorities; New Zealand Way brand members). While there is a recognition of the need for foreign skills in the industry as a whole, there is a reluctance to acknowledge its importance to individual businesses. Nevertheless, specific cultural knowledge and knowledge of foreign business ethics and practices were regarded as significant. Furthermore there were several significant relationships between the value placed on certain foreign skills and the sector of the tourism industry a business was in. Other independent variables, such as ownership and a business' export activities had an influence on the perception of foreign skills and the utilization of them. The regions that tourism businesses were selling services to also tended to have significant relationships with a number of foreign skills characteristics.

Certain foreign skills appear to be more important than others and this level of importance can be affected by issues such as ownership, type of tourism business and international trade activity. The paper concludes by noting that the presence or need for foreign skills will have implications for a business' human resource policy, education institutions and immigration policy.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2000

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