The Road Ahead for the Hospitality Industry in the Northern Territory

The hospitality industry in the Northern Territory (NT), until recently, has experienced good levels of growth in terms of employment and contribution to the gross state product. The emergence of a growing middle-class in the world, especially the Asia-Pacific region, has seen higher demand in travel to renowned tourist destinations like the Northern Territory, the gateway to Asia. This created positive growth spurts in the demand for hospitality products and services in both the accommodation as well as food and beverage sectors.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,  the impacts on sectors differed across the industries in the Northern Territory. One of the sectors that was impacted greatly was hospitality. The closure of international and state borders and the imposition of travel restrictions internally have seen the accommodation services and the food and beverage service operators suffer greatly. However, as a testament of the Territorian grit, we continue to support local businesses by buying locally. This has relieved some of the pressures on hospitality businesses. An example of Territorian support for hospitality businesses was by supporting take-away options from their favourite eateries.

However, there is light at the end of this COVID19 tunnel.

Now that some time has passed since the inception of many lockdown measures, Territorians can cautiously come out to enjoy some liberties. As further restrictions ease, the accessibility to food and beverage products as well as accommodation services will see an increased demand in these sectors. The Northern Territory will need the workforce to be ready and to be present to support this demand. Even before the impacts of COVID19, the hospitality industry already faced several occupations and skill shortages. These occupations included Chefs, Bakers, Hotel Managers, and Hotel Service Managers all of which require specific qualifications and vocationally trained skills. The good news is that the NT has locally-based Registered Training Organisations that have the infrastructure, trainers and experience to deliver these skills in demand to fill occupational and skill gaps existing.

While we hope that the hospitality industry will begin to look up in the current climate, NT employers look to restore and reshape their businesses in preparation for a new beginning. The opportunity is now for NT RTOs to work with NT businesses to assist in skilling and re-skilling their employees to prepare for the return of tourists of both domestic travel and international markets post COVD19 and beyond. Customer-facing industries have the option to take up heavily subsidised Infection Control Training. This training will help in preparing businesses as they re-open under COVID19 safe plans.

Moving forward, over time, these occupations such as Chefs, Bakers, Hotel Managers, and Hotel Service Managers (all of which have been priorities on the Skilled Occupations Priority List in the NT) will continue to be in demand.

The Territory, therefore, needs to be ready to receive this influx and uphold its global reputation for being a visitor’s haven.

If these needs are not met, the NT could be left wanting when the times look more positive. This may be a prudent time, for businesses that have identified that these occupations to be critical, to potentially invest in these skill sets and training to prepare for the future. With good prospects and outlooks just over the horizon, for now, the NT hospitality’s industry can look forward to bouncing back as we move forward.

If you wish to find out which NT based RTOs have the capacity to deliver Hospitality Vocational qualifications, units of competency or skill sets. Please make contact with the Industry Skills Advisory Council NT.