6 May 2021

"Lifeline" tourism package welcomed by business

Today’s announcement regarding additional support for the tourism sector has been eagerly awaited by the business community, according to Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

Minister Stuart Nash today announced a $200 million Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan focused on what has been described as the most vulnerable South Island regions, including Fiordland, South Westland, Queenstown Lakes, Mackenzie District and Kaikōura.

Ms Watson says businesses have been holding out for additional support for the tourism sector since the borders were closed last year. 

“Many in the tourism sector were impacted significantly when international tourism came to an abrupt halt in March 2020. This tourism package will be a lifeline for many businesses and help to protect the livelihoods of many families, and the economic future of some of those smaller communities, so it cannot have come soon enough.”

The announcement detailed a multi-faceted support package, including:

Psychological and social wellbeing support and training ($4.5 million) 
Grants for businesses to get expert advice on planning and decision-making in response to Covid-19 ($10 million total, $5,000 per business)
Grants to help businesses implement these plans and advice ($10 million, $5,000 per business)
A kick-start fund so businesses that have gone into hibernation or suspended operations can receive grants to help reopen and resume trading once international visitors return ($49 million)
Support to diversify and re-set the Queenstown-Wanaka regional economy with a $20 million fund
$15 million will enable the Milford Opportunities Project. 

Ms Watson says it is positive that the package is about helping to position the sector for the future and addressing longer term challenges. 

“Following the recent opening of the border with Australia and the planned opening of the border with the Cook Islands, tourism businesses will need support now to ensure they are geared up and ready to welcome our international tourists back.”

According to a recent survey by Tourism Industry Aotearoa tourism businesses have on average seen their revenues cut almost in half and four out of every 10 tourism jobs in New Zealand were lost over the past year. 
“Ensuring that these businesses can access the right support, which includes being able to access staff, will be essential to enable our tourism operators to once again deliver the unique kiwi experience that positions Canterbury, the South Island and New Zealand as a highly sought after tourism destination,” says Ms Watson.
“The urgency around having a strong well-coordinated plan to welcome our tourists back as we open up our borders and to maximise our unique tourism proposition and promote that at a global level is essential. This combined with the vaccination roll-out provides us cautious optimism that we are starting to reach a turning point in our response to one of the most significant economic disruptors of our generation.”

Ms Watson says the inclusion of psychological and social wellbeing support will also be welcomed. 
“The global pandemic has had a significant economic impact on many businesses across the tourism sector, but there is also the impact of dealing with over a year of ongoing uncertainties and constant change that our business community has faced – and continues to face. With many tourism businesses owner-operated, and employing families and locals, the focus on wellbeing is critical.”
In the Covid-19 environment, The Chamber provides support to all businesses in the South Island through the 0800 50 50 96 Covid-19 Business Helpline and a dedicated Covid-19 Business Response Team. 

“Through our Covid-19 Business Helpline we know first-hand just how important this support will be, so await the details of exactly how businesses will be able to access this support and how far the support extends, given the flow on impact to the tourism supply chain. We look forward to continuing to support the South Island business community through this period.”

Businesses are encouraged to reach out early to find out how they can access this support by connecting with the free Covid-19 Business Helpline. For South Island businesses that phone number is 0800 50 50 96.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Leeann Watson, Chief Executive, 027 447 7775, [email protected]

The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) is a not-for-profit membership-based service organisation that has been the home and voice of business in the Canterbury region since 1859. Comprised of over 2,600 member organisations that represent over 60,000 employees, The Chamber’s purpose is to empower people in business by providing advisory and consultancy support in employment relations, human resources, health and safety, international trade, manufacturing, migrant support, research and development grants, and training and development in many areas.

Affiliated to BusinessNZ and the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry