TECNZ fully supports government’s health and wellbeing actions to date with measures enacted to help halt the spread of COVID-19.
“TECNZ supported government’s decision to assist small businesses with a wage subsidy which was activated last week," Tourism Export Council NZ Lynda Keene says.
"The small business continuity package, while welcomed, has offered virtually no support to businesses with 20-100 staff and more than 100 staff. The $150,000 maximum value a business can claim for is only two weeks wages for some larger businesses.
"When looking at the numbers, the current subsidy is the FTE equivalent of $30,000 per annum. With no revenue expected over the next three to six months, businesses can’t top up employee wages at $60,000-$120,000 per year.
“The decision to close the borders marks the end for many tourism businesses, particularly the inbound tour operator sector which are the travel intermediaries at the centre of our industry.
"Tourism businesses are dying, it’s carnage out there,"says Lynda.
"Businesses that have spent decades and generations building up their businesses that provide jobs in regional economies, for real families, are in real pain. This is real. This is personal. Mortgages and rent are real, having enough money to pay food for families to survive is real. The tourism and hospitality sector needs government to step up and step up now.
“We are urging government to ‘fast-track’ within 48 hours, the delivery of an adequate financial survival package. Please do not insult businesses by saying go to your bank first, look at your balance sheet second and put a survival plan in place. These are smart and innovative businesses. They did that on day one (seven weeks ago) when at first this was a China market issue," she says.
“The tourism sector has not failed you. Please do not fail us. Tourism helped grow this economy to have the ‘reserves’ for a rainy day. It’s thundering out there so please help us and help us now. We need you to do better.
“Tourism contributes $17.2 billion per year (20.4 per cent total export earnings) to the economy and the annual GST paid by tourists is $3.8 billion, including $1.8 billion collected from international visitors. 229,566 people are directly and another 163,713 indirectly employed in tourism. That’s 14.4 per cent of NZ’s workforce.
“We are not asking you to put the entire NZ workforce on the government’s payroll,"says Lynda.
"We are asking you to provide adequate support for medium to large businesses. Otherwise thousands of people made redundant this week will hit the Ministry of Social Development applying for a benefit.”
“TECNZ suggests Government covers 70 per cent of wage bills for businesses 20-100 and >100 for eleven weeks taking them through to May 31, 2020. That will get the business to start of winter and provide time to make real decisions, not panic decisions. We need businesses to come back. These are smart people. They know what they have to do to downscale business and develop a new business model. But they need time.
“Its important inbound tour operators and our large visitor experience businesses survive. No distributors means no gateway for our international visitors. The visitor economy will rebound. But you’ll need inbound tour operators to link the offshore traveller with onshore product supplier (business) as the first step to re-engage the visitor economy. We won’t fail you when the time comes to re-engage happens. Please don’t fail us now.”