​Tourism Minister calls for a plug to industry skills shortage

At the Institute of Travel and Tourism’s conference this week in Malta, UK Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities Helen Grant pronounced UK tourism a ‘great British success story’ but lamented the lack of skills, and notably, customer care skills.

“I know that for small businesses, spending money on training can pose a risk,” she said. “What if you train your staff and then they leave? But I ask a different question – what if you don’t train them, and they stay?”

The industry’s skills shortage has been acknowledged for decades, and many major chains have addressed this with excellent training programmes. But here at the NCTA, customer care training programmes have been at the very heart of our business since we launched just over a year ago – improving a visitor’s experience undoubtedly raises the chances of a repeat visit or word-of-mouth recommendation.

So, we’ve developed a series of courses geared specifically to local Bournemouth businesses whatever their size, putting the focus squarely on customer service.

To date, we’ve had more than 1200 applicants complete the free, online Bournemouth Ambassador course which offers tips on customer service alongside sound product knowledge. Our Welcome Bournemouth Host is tailor-made for the local industry, cramming first-class customer training into a manageable four hour slot, heavily subsidised for all local tourist-facing businesses.

Ms Grant went on to criticise the lack of women in the industry’s top jobs. “Fifty-seven per cent of the industry is female, but there is still a shortage of women at the very top,” she argued.

We can respond to that too. It will be good to introduce the NCTA’s director, Samantha Richardson, to Ms Grant in the near future.

By Sheron Crossman

*photograph from The Indepedent