Bridging the gap: Skal members Tori Keating, left, and Darelle Jenkins have put their heads together to help Queenstown businesses struggling with staff shortages


Calling all ‘angels’.

As Queenstown braces for the winter influx, two resort women have come up with a  plan to help bridge the gap for local hospo, tourism and accommodation businesses, all desperately short of staff, hoping to help the resort’s economy recover.

Skal members Darelle Jenkins and Tori Keating this week launched their ‘Locals Keeping
Queenstown Open’ Facebook page, inspired by Lone Star Queenstown owner Dave
Gardiner’s SOS during the school holidays.

The concept’s simple — restaurants, bars, hotels, motels and tourism businesses who find themselves short-staffed and in need of some extra hands can pop up a post, detailing what they need.

Willing locals can then heed the call, or just offer their services to anyone who might utilise them.

Keating, co-owner of xtravel, says she got her hospo start in Queenstown and has friends who own restaurants.

‘‘I feel like I should step up and do something to help, because I know that they’re all really struggling for staff.

‘‘Hospo and tourism built … the town, and all of us had some hand in tourism or  hospitality at some point in town, even if it’s just enjoying your glory days of being behind the bar.

‘‘It’s an opportunity for us all to take ownership of the town that we want Queenstown to be moving forward.

‘‘It is a bridge, it’s not designed to be a long-term solution, it is just to get us  [through] until we start to get our wonderful, multi-cultural, overseas workforce back


Jenkins, Hospitality New Zealand’s Queenstown regional manager, says while the government’s made it clear the country needs to stop relying on migrant labour, given the national unemployment rate, of 3.2%, and that Queenstown’s a tourism-based
population, there are currently more jobs vacant in the Whakatipu than there are ratepayers.

‘‘That is an issue.

‘‘We’ve had a mass exodus for two years.

‘‘It’s going to take a long time to build that back up again.’’

While there are a host of people in the resort who have duty manager’s licences,  bartending or barista experience, have worked as kitchenhands or housekeepers, have P licences or skipper’s tickets, all of whom are needed, there are just as many jobs needing done on a casual basis, requiring no experience whatsoever.

Lending a helping hand in those areas will enable permanent staff to focus on customer

Keating: ‘‘I think all of us have a certain pride in Queenstown — the last thing we want is to see this schadenfraude that we keep seeing absolutely everywhere.

‘‘We want people to have a great time and it’s our responsibility to step up.

‘‘The school holidays were just a taste of [what’s to come], but the benefit of the school holidays was that all of the staff knew that it was just two weeks.

‘‘Imagine going into that for three months?’’