Spotlight

Next gen tourism: a scholarship winner's perspective

“I want to be part of the new tourism generation.

Fergus Dale on the tourism industry. 

Fergus Dale, an Otago University graduate, converted to tourism in his first year. After securing a summer-school research grant, Fergus investigated consumer behaviour for short-term rental accommodation products. He took another step into the industry by volunteering at TRENZ 2018 in Dunedin.

Since completing his studies, Fergus found his place in the tourism workforce, picking up a role with a major travel technology company as a marketing associate. He quickly realised just how much work goes on behind the scenes to provide visitors with world-class travel experiences.

"It’s a fun industry to be a part of," he notes.

Fergus says since securing his place in the industry, it has been a bit of a roller coaster. He concedes the current climate presents businesses and individuals with a lot of uncertainty. However, this hasn't dampened his positive long-term outlook.

"The tourism industry has experienced many crises before," he says. "At the end of the day, tourism will come back."

While acknowledging the significant discomfort being experienced across the industry, he notes there is a chance to 'make a crisis into an opportunity', saying he would like to support businesses to address long-term strategic challenges, such as business efficiency.

"We will be one of the first markets to have an idea about the new normal. It’s an interesting time to be part of the discussion," he says.

He points out there is a lot of opportunity for innovation now—something he has long been interested in, outlining in his scholarship application:

"I want to be part of the new tourism generation to tackle the strategic challenges faced as a result of significant growth head-on, to ensure New Zealand can continue to provide a world-class tourism experience."

Fergus feels his experiences as one of two 2019 TINZT Tourism Academic Scholarship recipients set him in good stead for entering the industry. He reckons it was 'pretty phenomenal' to be exposed to the opportunities the scholarship brings, particularly valuable conversations and ongoing relationships with industry leaders.

Fergus' advice to those about to graduate is: "Keep your options open. The most valuable output from my time at university was the soft skills I developed—the processes and ‘hard skills’ are taught on the job. There may not be as many opportunities within tourism at the moment but the industry will be ready soon."

The TINZT Tourism Academic Scholarship is on offer again in 2020. Applications close at 5pm, Monday 14 September. More information and the application form can be found at tinzt.org.nz or contact events@tia.org.nz.