The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry threatens to drain the industry of talent and it is more than ever important now that the industry attracts and nurture new talent.
This was the message of Claire Steiner, UK Director of Global Travel and Tourism Partnership, a charity that seeks to encourage and enable young people to follow careers in travel and tourism, who moderated a WTM session titled ‘Tourism Talent for the Future’.
Opening the session, Steiner highlighted the importance of the sector, which had created one in four new jobs created over the past five years, supported one in 10 jobs globally, and is also responsible for 10% of global GDP, according to a recent World Travel and Tourism Council report.
She said rising unemployment, particularly among the under-25s, who have been dubbed generation COVID-19, along with many seasoned travel, tourism and hospitality professionals currently out of work, had created a real concern that the industry would experience a drain of talent as these professionals moved to other industries.
Moreover, she said the industry might fail to attract new talent because younger generations might be concerned about the job reliability within the industry after seeing how badly it had been affected by the pandemic compared with other industries.
Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on Kuoni Travel, company HR Consultant Nicola Sadowski said: “We at Kuoni lost really valuable team members with a huge amount of business experience and real expertise.” She added that Kuoni’s business relied heavily on personal service and individuals with deep destination experience.
“All of that information, expertise and experience falling away from the business represents some really tough challenges for Kuoni and other businesses out there,” she said.
Still, Sadowski said this period had shown how importantly people rated their holidays and wanted to explore locally and abroad. She said she was hopeful that the industry would be recruiting again soon.
According to her, how tourism companies had managed their retrenchment processes would be key to their ability to entice people back into the industry. In this vein, she highlighted some of the initiatives within the Kuoni group, which included making sure the company had contact details for people who were let go so that they could be contacted as soon as new jobs were available; introducing a placement programme that helped employees identify their transferable skills and brush up their CVs and LinkedIn profiles; as well as the Kuoni Talent Finder, which is an online database where potential employers can search for previous Kuoni employees.
Sadowski believes the job market in the industry will also evolve. “Things have changed,” she said. “Our technology has changed; how we work has changed. So, potentially we could have more momentum and we will be looking at a more dynamic and diverse workplace going forward.”