5 May 2020

Tourism Industry Aotearoa calls for special intervention for the sector

7:49 pm on 5 May 2020

The number of people employed by tourism could halve without targeted intervention, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa, chief executive, Chris Roberts

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says a survey shows tailored support for tourism is urgently needed. Photo: SUPPLIED - TIA

It follows a survey it conducted that found many tourism businesses were scrambling for capital, cutting their business size and temporarily closing.

More than 500 members responded and a third of them planned to hibernate for the foreseeable future.

Tourism previously accounted for more than 20 percent of the country's exports, supporting close to 400,000 jobs.

The survey showed businesses halved the number of full time staff they expected to employ in April due to Covid-19.

More than 90 percent of respondents had accessed the government's wage subsidy scheme.

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TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said the results showed tailored support for tourism was urgently needed beyond the wage subsidy.

"The gravity of this impact is emphasised when you apply this ratio across the 393,000 people directly or indirectly employed by tourism," Roberts said.

"We could see up to half these jobs disappear, without targeted intervention."

The majority of respondents - 78 percent - were taking major steps to adapt their businesses, with 40 percent sharply reducing the size and capacity.

About a fifth of respondents were scrambling for capital in order to survive.

"The current universal support programmes are not sufficient for tourism businesses," Roberts said.

"No other industry has been as affected by Covid-19 and the support needs to acknowledge and address this accordingly."

He said the multi-million dollar international visitor levy fund could provide targeted loans and grants to cover rent and lease payments.

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