No government assistance for failing industry

Duncan Garner: No tourists means the Queenstown economy is fast heading downhill. Credit: NewsHub

Leaving South Island tourism businesses to fend for themselves while the borders are shut has been compared to slaughtering every cow in the country, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult told The Am Show last Friday.

Boult is “gutted” the Government doesn't appear to be planning any special assistance for the region, as businesses go into hibernation and threaten to close completely, unable to hold out until the threat of COVID-19 is over. 

"Queenstown businesses did not cause our borders to close, and yet we're being asked to pay the price," he told The AM Show, begging the Government for a new wage subsidy package and loans so tourism operators can survive until the borders reopen. 

"If we were talking about the inability to export milk powder for two years, would we slaughter all the cows then wait until new ones come along to start the business again? That's what's effectively being asked here." 

The Millennium Hotel has closed its doors, Canyon Explorers has gone into hibernation, and no tourists means the Queenstown economy is fast heading downhill, said The AM Show commentator Duncan Garner

“The only other thing heading down faster is the cash reserves held by businesses.

“And suddenly Queenstown is facing another year of no foreign tourists. How long can they cling on and when does the pain become obvious?

“The answer is now."

So what's the answer? Adapt, gut it out, it is what it is, said Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.

But what Nash really means is jump on the spot, do some business-acrobats and you'll come up with some kind of pivot, said Garner. 

Nash said he would ban hiring vans that are not self-contained to tourists as he urges a focus on attracting high-spending visitors.

The minister told a tourism summit on Tuesday that the industry should sell itself as a destination for the wealthy when borders reopen.

Nash told Morning Report there was built up demand from wealthy travellers, while backpackers and freedom campers would not be the target market.

Read edition 1014 of the Wānaka Sun here. 

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