Tourism businesses are closing down because of a shortage of staff, an industry expert has claimed.
Susan Briggs, who runs the Tourism Network, which marketing advice and support for tourism businesses in the Yorkshire Dales and elsewhere, says tourism businesses are suffering due to chronic difficulties getting hold of enough staff.
Susan said that normally when she speaks to owners and managers of large and small tourism businesses, they will ask her about marketing topics.
But she added: “Over the last year, this has changed.
“Everyone’s still interested in marketing, but they have a more urgent question to answer — how to get more staff?
“Permanent staff, temporary staff, full-time, part-time, senior staff, skilled and unskilled labour — they’re all in serious demand in Yorkshire at the moment.
“We could debate the reasons for this but that’s not necessarily going to change anything. And we need change fast.
“I know of numerous businesses that have closed for lack of staff. Imagine that, visitors and customers wanting to spend their money in our area, but unable to do so because there’s no one there.”
Susan said collaboration between businesses was essential to tackle the problem.
“I’m not sure that it will be easy to find solutions but some ideas are already being discussed. We’re meeting soon to take them further.”
She said the industry needed to raise awareness of the range of opportunities offered by a career in tourism.
“Maybe a collaborative online vacancy board might help. The media traditionally treats tourism as a low-income-only industry. It might not be the highest paying industry but it’s more economically rewarding than farming, and some manufacturing.
“There are other non-financial rewards for those working in the industry, particularly if they like meeting people or spending time in beautiful places. A combined PR and social media campaign to raise awareness of Yorkshire as a good place to live and work is needed.
“We also need to be better at demonstrating the opportunities to progress within the industry. These have never been so good – show your ability as a waiter, be reliable and you could be managing a restaurant in no time.”
Susan said the industry should also target older people who have retired to the area and may not have considered part-time work in the sector.
“They may have taken early retirement from quite stressful jobs but they’re not really ready to retreat from the world and not be productive in some way.
“I know several who are less worried about how much they earn – they just want to feel useful and part of a community. They’re even happy to work weekends.
“When I suggest working in hospitality and tourism, they’re always surprised. They thought they wouldn’t be welcome, and that such jobs were only for younger people.
“Of course there are practical issues to consider. Availability of public transport and local accommodation are also necessary. We’re looking at those, and considering some very simple ground-up solutions.
“These ideas may not work, but surely its better to try them immediately than to wait until more doors close.”
You can read more on Susan’s thoughts on the issue here.