Tourism Industry Aotearoa says the latest round of government assistance falls short of what is needed to help the sector recover once borders reopen
New Zealand’s Tourism Minister, Kelvin Davis, has announced 126 individual businesses will receive lump-sum grants of up to NZ$500,000, supplemented by an offer of loans as further funding. Separate loan facilities have also been set up for inbound tour operators, event organisers and those wishing to improve their digital capabilities.
TIA Chief Executive, Chris Roberts, said that while the organisation appreciated the assistance, there were many elements of the stimulus that left him scratching his head.
“Businesses will have to very carefully consider whether to take up the offered loans, as they will be reluctant to take on more debt when their incomes are restricted,” he said.
“In particular, it is a surprise that inbound tour operators, who have no income while the borders are closed, are only being offered loans.”
Referencing the Tourism Election 2020 Action Plan, which was distributed to candidates across the upcoming New Zealand election taking place on September 19, Roberts acknowledged the vow from Finance Minister, Grant Roberton, that the government will offer a ‘rolling maul of support’ to tourism businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today’s package is fine, as far as it goes, but it cannot be the end. We accept that not every tourism business will survive this crisis, not every job can be saved. But in partnership with the Government, we can limit the damage,” Roberts added.
TIA has affirmed its intention to run its TRENZ export tourism trade show in 2021 but that it is preparing to do so with a highly digital and virtual presence, following unsuccessful applications for government funding assistance.