Tourism operators are beginning to make tough decisions as the spread of COVID-19 continues to hammer the industry.
Medium and large tourism businesses around the country will be forced to lay staff off and close their doors if they do not receive immediate assistance from the Government.
While the Government’s Business Continuity Package released on Tuesday has given smaller businesses (around 20 employees) three months of breathing space, the $150,000 cap on the wage subsidy is of little value to larger tourism businesses with multi-million dollar payrolls, Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts says.
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis told Parliament on Wednesday that Treasury had been directed to work on a package that would cover larger businesses, but this would likely roll-out on a “case-by-case basis”.
TIA sent the Minister’s office detailed information from 65 large tourism businesses who desperately need assistance to hang onto staff and stay operating.
“Across those businesses, there is a minimum of 4890 planned job losses. 22 of the operators are preparing to close their businesses and another 21 are planning partial closures,” says Chris.
The first of those layoffs began yesterday and the first closures will be next week.
“These include some of our most iconic, well-respected and award-winning operators. Every one of these 65 businesses is desperate for a conversation with government. TIA is pleading for the Government to act with extreme urgency to try and save these New Zealanders’ livelihoods,” he says.
“There seems little prospect that the tourism economy will have any level of recovery in the next six months, and it will likely take several years to get back to previous levels.
"But if we are to recover, we need our businesses to be able to retain the skills and experience of their employees, so they are ready to respond when the COVID-19 crisis is over.”