Vol. 1 No. 1 (2023): Transformational Experiences Beyond Borders: Partnership Development for Sustainable Futures
Research Session 5.1: Accessible Experience and Hospitality & Tourism Critical Experiences

Invisible until they’re gone: ‘Keystone’ occupations for sustainable visitor experiences

Richard Robinson
The University of Queensland
Shelagh Mooney
Auckland University of Technology
Adam Stephen
Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Published 2023-12-01


  • HTEC,
  • labour and skills crisis,
  • destination,
  • keystone occupations


Authentic and unique hospitality, tourism, events and culinary experiences form a crucial part of visitors and travellers’ enjoyment and positive evaluation of a destination. This paper explores some of the workforce issues associated with creating authentic and unique visitor experiences. It highlights two essential components of providing positive visitor experiences - infrastructure, and a skilled tourism workforce. We introduce the emerging concept of ‘keystone occupations’. Using cases from across the Tasman we show how destinations depend on these critical occupations, especially as their skills are vital to fully functional infrastructure in mobilizing visitor experiences.