Brenden van Blerk, hotel manager, Holiday Inn Potts Point, Sydney

What are the three greatest challenges to Australian tourism and how would you address them if you had your way?

Labour shortage The primary issue in my eyes as a hotel operator is the attraction and retention of talent. The industry needs 36,000 team members and leaders, and we are not attracting or producing talent fast enough to keep up with demand.

More emphasis is required from high schools on the types of careers available in the hospitality and tourism industries. Vocational institutions need to find ways to ensure fees are affordable and government assistance programmes are accessible to students.

Digital experiences As an industry, we are sometimes slow to adapt to the rise of digital marketing and shopping experience. The consumer today is demanding media-rich digital content and engaging experiences before they even buy the product or use the service. It is all about the experience.

We need to (attract) digital leaders from other industries into the hospitality and tourism sectors and act on their recommendations. We also need to adapt our brands to be more nimble in this landscape to entice and secure buyer preference through experience loyalty.

Transport infrastructure Tourism transportation is nearing (or possibly already) at maximum capacity and yet we don’t have the right structure to grow significantly or handle the scale of international segments we are targeting.

We need to find the operational expertise, with state government support, to sign major projects like Western Sydney Airport so that we can exponentially increase connectivity into New South Wales.

By doing so, it will create growth in Western Sydney and then flow into benefits such as easier domestic travel and international choices, thereby helping reduce the perceived high cost of travel in Australia.


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