A new adventure tourism course in Tauranga and Taupō is offering people the chance to launch themselves into action-packed careers.
The new one-year Certificate of Adventure Tourism (Level 3) programme, which begins on July 23, will be offered at the Windermere campus in Tauranga.
Programme manager Nick Chater said this was an extremely popular course which had been running at the Institute's Rotorua campus since 1990.
"With our services industry facing an estimated shortage of 200,000 skilled workers, Toi Ohomai is responding to employers demand by offering extra courses in the region.
"Surfing, SUP, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing – there's so much available in this region for tourists, and employers are crying out for skilled workers who have trained in the outdoors in a range of wilderness activities," he said.
Led by industry experts, the one-year course introduces students to all aspects of adventure tourism and covers hands-on learning in the outdoors, along with on-campus training in leadership, risk management, communication and first aid.
Graduates of the certificate course can then go on to complete the Diploma in Adventure Tourism (Level 5) to become qualified adventure guides.
The latter qualification already offered in Rotorua will begin in Tauranga from mid-2019.
"Many of our Level 3 students haven't had any outdoor experience before but they absolutely love the course, and their self-confidence improves massively," Chater said.
According to the MBIE New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023, the country can expect a growth in international visitor arrivals of 4.8 per cent a year until 2023.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said launching these courses helped remind the community that tourism was a significant contributor to the region's economy.
"Under our Visitor Economy Strategy, we aim to grow the region's visitor economy from $1bn to $1.45b over the next 10 years and create another 4000 jobs in the sector.
"The sector was wrongly undervalued when it is perceived as providing only low-skill and low-value roles," she said.
Dunne said 4000 new jobs across a range of skills sets not only helped fill significant skill gaps but also created renewed interest in career opportunities within the broader tourism sector.
It was important to continue to have this conversation with Bay students, guidance counsellors, principals, and the wider business community, she said.
Last year, $1 billion was spent by tourists in the coastal Bay of Plenty, of which $782m was spent in Tauranga and another $94m in the Western Bay of Plenty.