New Zealand tourism body welcomes grants but says more support needed

More than 100 tourism operators in New Zealand will access grants of up to $500,000, supplemented by loan offers offered by the New Zealand Government.

Out of the 20,000-plus tourism businesses in New Zealand, 126 organisations are receiving direct support.

A further loan facility for inbound tour operators will be available, as well as a fund for event organisers and support for increasing digital capability.

But tourism body Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) chief executive Chris Roberts says the funding falls short of what is needed.

“Prior to the pandemic, tourism in New Zealand was a $112 million per day industry,” he said. “Much of the package announced today is actually loans that will have to be paid back, but even at $300 million is equivalent to less than three days of tourism’s contribution to New Zealand’s economy.

“Finance Minister Grant Robertson has talked about a ‘rolling maul of support’ for those businesses directly impacted 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.”

TIA recently delivered a joint letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calling for more support for those businesses that are hardest hit by the border restrictions.

Roberts also said he was disappointed the government rejected his call to support the annual TRENZ tourism trade show.

“We are also determined to find a way to put on TRENZ 2021, an event that will need to have a large virtual component given border restrictions,” he said.

“With the STAPP funding application rejected, we have immediately begun work on Plan B. TRENZ is the most important way our tourism operators connect with global travel sellers and we need to retain our place and profile in the global marketplace.”