22 May 2020

South Island tourism giant prepares to shed large number of staff

3:58 pm on 22 May 2020

One of the country's biggest tourism companies is considering a significant number of redundancies.

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Real Journeys, which is part of Wayfare, operates the Earnslaw in Queenstown as well as cruises to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Photo: Real Journeys

Wayfare has begun consulting its staff about proposed changes across its businesses including Real Journeys, Go Orange and the International Antarctic Centre.

They employ between 1000 to 1500 staff.

Wayfare acting chief executive Ian Jackson said the wage subsidy bought some time, but didn't alter the fact that the tourism market would be much smaller for the foreseeable future.

It's unclear how many jobs will be cut, but Jackson said losses would be significant.

"Unfortunately, this is the reality we face. We must focus on an operating model that is sustainable and gives us more flexibility," he said.

However, there was hope to save some jobs.

"Cardrona and Treble Cone can prioritise Wayfare group staff - which is an advantage for us, and I'm hopeful we can retain some of our people through this process, ready for next summer," Jackson said.

"We also have a small number of fixed term redeployment opportunities into our engineering division to support our maintenance schedule."

The changes are expected to be finalised by mid-June.

"We're an iconic, resilient, 66-year-old company with a proud history in tourism and conservation in the stunning South Island," Jackson said.

"We're here for the long haul, and we must ensure we're competitively fit to respond when demand returns."

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