Record Numbers Attend the 5th Annual Tourism HR Forum

Halifax , Nova Scotia  – November 21, 2005 - The 2005 Tourism HR Forum opened with a spectacular presentation, hosted by the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage.  It featured dramatic and beautiful images of Nova Scotia, and culminated in a moving live vocal performance, promoting the virtues of Canada.  The presentation proved to be the perfect kick-off to two days of frank, innovative and thought-provoking dialogue on the HR issues facing the Canadian tourism industry.

Titled Navigate the Future: Invest in Your People, the Forum brought together a record number of delegates, with over 200 human resource executives, educators, managers, and corporate trainers to discuss the latest HR issues, information, and trends.  The event was also well served by the strong sponsorship offered by more than 20 partners this year.

As has become the hallmark of HR Forums, the content over the two days was timely, engaging, and at times controversial. The program was filled with spectacular speakers tackling a variety of topics pertaining to the tourism industry.  Recruitment and retention strategies, working with different age groups and breakout sessions on foreign trained workers, Aboriginals and innovative training methods were just a few topics covered. 

Randy Williams, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) once again proved to be an excellent emcee, and peppered the proceedings with his usual wit and informed insights.  Mr. Williams also participated in a panel discussion hosted by TV personality, political pundit and market researcher Allan Gregg.  The panel included other keynote speakers and industry representatives from the first day of the Forum, and focused on the need for employers to access different labour pools, including new immigrants, Aboriginals, youth, and recent retirees, to meet the labour demands of the industry.

The event attracted a record number of educators from across the country, including high school teachers, and college and university instructors, interested in sharing their experiences with one another, and with the industry leaders in attendance.  A number of panel discussions focused on education-themed items, with the groundbreaking work being done on Foreign Credential Recognition being the centerpiece for discussion.

Standout sessions included presentations by Jean Gourdon and Jennifer Corriero who spoke from personal experience with enthusiasm and genuine passion.  Gourdon wowed the audience with innovative and very successful human resources policies and practices from his 30 years of experience in hotels, with his core message being that employees must be your first priority if you want your business to prosper.  Ms. Corriero delivered an energetic presentation that captivated the audience by highlighting 10 tips on employing young people.  Bernd Christmas spoke about integrating Aboriginals into today’s corporate culture. Dr. John Izzo closed the conference by highlighting that the younger workforce is looking for variety and flexibility in their jobs saying that “young people want variety, they don’t want to leave”.

While this event has been raising the warning flag about impending labour shortages for a number of years now, this was the first time where attendees arrived with their own stories of how labour challenges are already starting to hit them hard.  Many of the gloomy scenarios previously posited are coming to fruition, and with this reality hitting home, many of the attendees were seen scribbling notes on best practices to combat HR challenges throughout the Forum.  With a new realization that “now is the time” to prepare for our future HR needs, a dialogue has been started to share innovative and realistic solutions to the labour challenges we face, to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of the Canadian tourism industry.  As we prepare for the next HR Forum (Vancouver B.C., May 1-2, 2007), it is imperative that we continue this dialogue, and promote this industry as a viable career choice to Canadian youth, new immigrants, people with disabilities, recent retirees, and our Aboriginal community.

Look for upcoming information on the next HR Forum set for May 1-2, 2007 in Vancouver, BC!