Restaurant Association Launches Election Manifesto

The single most important issue for the hospitality industry is the sector’s recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Restaurant Association is calling on the next government to work collaboratively to create a concise pathway for rebuilding and repositioning the sector for the future.

“The hospitality industry contributes $11 billion to the economy, making it one of New Zealand’s largest industries. Despite being an enduring powerhouse of the New Zealand economy, policy made for the sector, in particular for hospitality, is fragmented, impractical and often devoid of the everyday realities of operations,” said Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois.

“Sadly, our industry’s strong growth story has been decimated by COVID-19 leading us to five key priorities to best support the recovery of our sector and ensure government policy matches the realities of everyday hospitality operations.”

The hospitality industry has until now, been in sustained growth. But for some time, it has been desperately lacking the skilled workforce needed to support growth.

“We have relied heavily on a migrant workforce that is now largely inaccessible to us. COVID-19 has now made it necessary to reset the employee pathway. This means investing in hospitality apprenticeships and further training fit for purpose whilst also refining our immigration policy needs,” Bidois continued.

“Despite the enormous contribution our industry makes to the economy we are still lacking our own dedicated ministry. We are calling on the government for greater recognition and better oversight in the form of a dedicated Minister and hospitality unit within the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.”

For a sector that generated annual sales in excess of $11 billion and employed more than 133,000 people in 2019, to not have a dedicated Minister to call on for support, means that Government policy regularly misses the mark when considered against the realities of our sector. This became increasingly problematic throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“We are also seeking greater acknowledgement from the next government for the significant role that hospitality plays in the tourist experience,” noted Bidois.

“Every single visitor to New Zealand consumes our food, and every aspect of the New Zealand food story - from production to tourism - could recognise the importance of connecting with the people who eat our food. As we navigate no tourists for the foreseeable future, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to apply the hard-won gains of our 100% pure reputation to our food industry, repositioning the story of New Zealand’s food experience and better promote the depth and diversity of dining experiences.

“This will also create the halo effect of developing pride in our hospitality story and encourage more job seekers to view hospitality as an employment pathway for life.

“The hospitality sector is a core component of the New Zealand lifestyle; however, appetites are changing. We are seeing a rise in conscious consumerism: where customers are driven not by prices or flavours alone, but the origins of their food. Finally, we would like to see the next government to examine and refine hospitality’s regulatory environment.

“Increasing complexity around rules and regulations is making it difficult for local businesses to grow and provide job opportunities. Regulatory changes over the past three years have weighed heavily on hospitality so we are calling for a government-wide review of hospitality regulations at a national and local level and consider ‘best practice’ standardisation where appropriate,” concluded Bidois.

The full manifesto is available for download via the Restaurant Association website.