Visitor economy businesses urged to have their say on pressing workforce skills challenges

Nov 14, 2023

As the North East gears up to achieve ambitious plans to double the size of the visitor economy in the next decade, recruitment and retention challenges also loom large. To ensure the industry is equipped with the skills it needs to thrive, businesses across the region are being urged to feed into a region-wide survey that aims to identify emerging skills and workforce challenges.

According to research from People 1st International, only 37% of visitor economy businesses across the UK believe the training and development opportunities on offer meet the skills needs of employees. This statistic is stark warning for industry leaders in the region, that a shortage of skilled labour could impact the sector’s transformational growth plans.

Addressing this head on, Destination North East England – a regional collaboration that aims to unlock the untapped potential of the North East visitor economy – has commissioned a comprehensive survey to provide the intelligence to better understand the complex skills issues and emerging workforce challenges. This will then inform interventions and initiatives to address the challenges the sector is facing.

The survey which is open to the full breadth of businesses across the North East’s visitor economy until 24 November 2023 investigates skills gaps and workforce issues and explores approaches to training and development.

Destination North East England is led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative on behalf of the region, working with delivery partners Visit Northumberland and Visit County Durham and in working in partnership with all seven local authorities.

Ian Thomas, Director of Visitor Economy at NewcastleGateshead Initiative comments:

“We have bold ambitions to double the size of the region’s visitor economy over the next decade to £10 billion. To achieve this we need a strong, skilled workforce capable of delivering an unrivalled welcome, high quality service and tourism offer. Addressing the skills gap and developing a pipeline of future talent will be critical to accelerating recovery and supporting the sector to achieve its growth potential.

“In light of the current recruitment and retention difficulties facing the sector, having a deeper understanding of the intricate skills-related challenges facing leaders is increasingly crucial. We are urging all visitor economy businesses – from accommodation, food service, visitor attractions and conferencing and events through to passenger transport, tour guides, pubs, bars and retail – to input into the survey which will help us to make evidence-based decisions to target skills training, initiatives and funding more effectively.”

Businesses can share their experiences and reflections anonymously via the survey here.