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Perspectives: Why NZ tourism won’t be broken

26 Nov 2021  By Contributor

YHA Christchurch is among 11 hostels to close. 

After the shock news of YHA New Zealand’s closure, the operator’s former general manager of marketing and sales, Brian Westwood, writes the industry has an ‘Ace’ that is helping it through the crisis.

Brian Westwood

Despite the universe’s best efforts to destroy tourism in New Zealand, there are very good reasons why this industry – my industry – won’t be broken.

It’s been a tough few weeks, culminating with the announcement of YHA’s closure.

Within this maelstrom of closures, Covid chaos, political capers and a Covid strategy that is more reactive than Chernobyl, there has been clarity, ambition, drive and, dare I say it, genuine kindness from within our industry.

I had the privilege to be invited to participate in Go with Tourism’s Workforce Wānanga

My mind was well and truly blown by the collegiality, non-whining, future-focused conversations had by over 100 industry representatives. These individuals are as much competitors as they are allies. But they set that aside for the common good.

The maturity of the conversation, the pace and volume of the work and the insightful dialogue was something to behold. All driven by a desire to come out the other side better, stronger and without exception, focused on a successful future.

The other moment of clarity has been more personal.

On sharing the sad news of YHA’s demise and calling for help for our own staff to find work, the industry, my industry, rallied around and within hours put up multiple opportunities for our staff to investigate.

Take a moment to absorb that.

People I don’t know alongside many friends from all over New Zealand took the time to circle one of their own and wrap them in kindness, offering a practical helping hand. Without hesitation and with warmth. All during a time when it’s hard enough to look after yourself.

There is no other industry that has suffered more than tourism through this pandemic.

We were the first to lose our markets and we’ll be the last to get them back. Innovation, tenacity, and bloody-mindedness have seen many make it through so far. That’s not enough on its own as we head into 2022, but the ‘Ace’ we hold is our collective strength. Our shared wisdom, solutions focus and desire to win.

Our industry is a community in the strongest sense of the word. We compete, we argue, we laugh, and we play but most of all we genuinely care about each other, we understand the importance of the sum rather than the parts, and we unashamedly believe in our collective success.

This is why Tourism in New Zealand won’t be broken.


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