The outgoing chair of the Bendigo Tourism Board says more must be done to address the “serious problem” with with a lack of skills in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Kathie Bolitho is finishing her time as chair of the board and says addressing skills shortages is one area the board will need to continue working on.
Employers in the hospitality and tourism industries are struggling to find staff, she said.
“There’s a huge shortage of skilled hospitality people in Bendigo and in fact right across the world,” she said.
“Not only do we not have enough chefs, we don’t have enough people who want to commit to having a career in the hospitality industry.”
Ms Bolitho said every industry must evolve to deal with new changes, disruption and changing customer behavior.
She was confident passionate leaders on the board would continue to tackle industry skills shortages.
“So I feel we are in good hands. The board committed to co-funding a full time membership officer with the City of Greater Bendigo for the coming year, which will provide more support to members who face a changing industry,” Ms Bolitho said.
She had decided to step away because her capacity to deliver service had reduced in the past six months.
“All roles on the Bendigo Tourism Board are volunteer, and every board member dedicates their personal time to championing local industry,” she said.
“I feel that it is time for a fresh person with greater capacity that I to lead the board into the next year.”
Ms Bolitho said she loved every moment as chair and was proud of the board’s achievements, citing as wins advocacy in the lead up to the last council elections, work amid departmental changes at the council’s tourism unit, delivering industry grants and the group’s most recent five year plan.
Ms Bolitho urged ‘non-traditional’ businesses to throw their weight and support behind Bendigo Tourism, saying even real estate agents and plumbers fixing amenities in hotels were benefiting from tourism by attracting even more people to the city.
A number of board positions became vacant at Monday’s Bendigo Tourism AGM, with a record amount of nominations to fill industry-allocated spaces, which Ms Bolitho said was pleasing.
“It represents a vibrant and successful industry that many people are keen to devote their personal time to growing and supporting,” she said.
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