South Island regions hardest hit by the closure of international borders are the focus of a visit by Tourism and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash over the next two days.
Nash will visit Southland and Central Otago to discuss challenges facing regional economies. He will travel to Te Anau, Invercargill, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Cromwell.
"I would like to hear first-hand from local mayors and councillors, small businesses, employers, community organisations and iwi about how they are responding to the impact of closed borders," Nash says.
"I also would like updates on the roll out of tourism support and infrastructure investment from the Tourism Recovery Package, Provincial Growth Fund and other sources.
"I have been upfront that mass-scale international tourism is unlikely before 2022, but we are working hard to open a Trans-Tasman bubble as soon as we can in 2021.
"We have never stopped working on the issue of the trans-Tasman bubble. Although we have had community cases here, and there have been community outbreaks in Australia which have slowed things down, the work has never stopped. We remain committed to it.
"We are on-track to vaccinate the majority of Kiwis against COVID-19 by the end of this year, after the deal to purchase extra doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Mass vaccination against COVID-19 is a crucial step for our tourism industry and wider economy.
"It reinforces our approach from the very beginning of the global pandemic, which was to emphasise a strong health response as the best economic response.
"We responded immediately with a $400 million dollar support package for tourism last year. Wider support through wage subsidies, resurgence payments, and interest-free loans are also available."