30 Oct 2023

Tourism NI launches New Phase of Make it Here campaign

New phase of ‘Make it Here’ campaign launches to promote careers in the sector

Photo Caption: (L-R) Eimear Callaghan, Head of Experience and Industry Development at Tourism NI pictured with Ruairi Lawther, a bar tender at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast and Marian O’Hara, Human Resource Manager at the Fitzwilliam Hotel.

A third of employers in the tourism and hospitality sectors in Northern Ireland are currently experiencing recruitment difficulties, according to new research from Tourism Northern Ireland.

The data was released as Tourism NI launched phase two of its 'Make it Here'  campaign, which is dedicated to changing perceptions of working in the tourism and hospitality sectors and attracting and retaining more great people.

Tourism generates an estimated £1bn in visitor spend for the economy each year and accounts for one in every 12 jobs, with 65,000 people working in tourism and hospitality. Tourism is also one of the most geographically and socially dispersed sectors of the economy, with 70% of jobs located outside of Belfast. But the sectors have faced significant skills shortages in recent years, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A survey of more than 100 businesses who took part in Tourism NI’s Tourism Enterprise Development (TED) programme found that 33% of employers are currently experiencing recruitment difficulties and, with the festive period approaching, 62% of the industry feel they need continued support for developing staff skills, recruitment and retention.

Make it Here  is designed to address negative perceptions of tourism and hospitality and highlight positive aspects of working in the industry that are usually overlooked, such as career progression opportunities, flexible working hours and the sociable nature of many roles.

A separate survey of 1,000 people from across Northern Ireland, as part of Tourism NI’s twice yearly Tourism and Hospitality Perception Tracker,  found that 26% saw tourism as an appealing sector to work in, up two percentage points from the same survey six months earlier.

The survey found that working in the tourism sector is more appealing to older age groups, with 36% of 50-64-year-olds positive about the industry (up from 27%) and 38% amongst over 65s (up from 35%).

Younger people’s perception of working in hospitality also increased between the two surveys. Positive perceptions increased most amongst younger people aged 18-24 with 67% seeing a rise in tourism jobs vs 52% in the previous survey.

Of those surveyed, 60% felt the tourism and hospitality sector would grow as a provider of permanent job/career opportunities, up from 55% in October 2022.

The Make it Here campaign is being supported by key industry bodies such as Hospitality and Tourism Skills (HATS) network, Hospitality Ulster, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance, Springboard, Bus & Coach NI and a range of employers.

Previous research has shown that many people in Northern Ireland don’t consider a career in tourism or hospitality because of negative perceptions about issues such as job security and long hours.

Eimear Callaghan, Head of Experience & Industry Development at Tourism NI, said: “Our industry has a powerful voice and we need to come together to shout about the vibrant, rewarding careers in our sector. Phase one of the campaign, launched earlier this year, attracted more than 30,000 visits to the 'Make it Here'  website, so we know there is genuine interest from potential jobseekers.

“Employers are responding to the skills challenge by introducing more flexible rotas, new training opportunities, and changes in pay, grading and working conditions. Many are taking active steps such as signing up to the Wellbeing Promise, a commitment to promote the wellbeing and development of staff. Our research shows perceptions are already starting to change, but as employers enter the busy Christmas season there is much work still to be done to make tourism and hospitality a sector of choice for young people, career switchers, returners and retirees alike.”

To find out more about careers in tourism and hospitality go to www.makeyourcareer.co.uk.