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Hospitality, events firms “may not survive” lockdown – industry

24 Mar 2020  By Shannon Williams | | @tourismticker

Many hospitality businesses will not survive the new measures announced by the Government to get ahead of the Covid-19 outbreak, says Hospitality New Zealand.

As the country moves into alert level 4, all non-essential business would close, including every bar, cafe, restaurant and casino.

Julie White

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said while the association welcomed the decision to remove the $150,000 cap on wage subsidies, ongoing costs to business during the four-week closure would mean many would not recover and may never reopen.

“We are already seeing thousands of job losses from hospitality businesses that have closed over the past couple of weeks. Further closures could lead to thousands more job losses in hospitality businesses — and supporting industries such as laundry services, baking, food distributors, tour companies, travel and transport.”

She said hospitality businesses would be a critical part of the country’s recovery, and they needed the ongoing support of Government and New Zealanders.

“Our hospitality businesses are the fabric that connects our neighbourhoods and communities and an essential part of our tourism sector. They will be more important than ever in our recovery, and it’s vital that we can come together to keep them operating.”

The hospitality and tourism sectors collectively brought $40bn per year into the New Zealand economy and employed more than 400,000 people. Hospitality NZ has 3000 members.

A survey carried out by the New Zealand Events Association found more than 3000 events had been cancelled and a further 994 were postponed indefinitely as the industry continued to feel the impact from the Covid-19 outbreak.

The survey found the equivalent of 1,377 full-time employees had already been lost or were projected to be lost from the sector in the coming months.

NZEA said it expected those numbers to rise as New Zealand moves to alert level 4 at midnight on Wednesday.

“Event organisers, suppliers, venues and artists are among those within New Zealand’s substantial events sector that have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some operators have already seen a 100% loss in activities – and ultimately in revenue – with the situation set to become even more critical with mass gatherings cancelled and public venues closed,” the organisation said.

An estimated 10,873 events were scheduled for the next six months.

Segolene de Fontenay

Segolene de Fontenay, NZEA general manager said much of the events industry workforce consists of small to medium businesses, self-employed contractors and sole traders whose revenue streams came exclusively from event-related activities, all of which were curtailed for the foreseeable future.

“Like many other sectors impact by Covid-19, the industry is in a holding pattern that will see it crumble in short order without targeted additional support from the Government. Event professionals are calling for tax relief, further wage assistance to retain key staff and assistance with overheads to help cover their costs of cancelled events, all to be able to stay in business,” she said.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand chief executive Lisa Hopkins said the business events sector, which is worth around half-a-billion dollars to the New Zealand economy each year, had been an early casualty of the pandemic.

“Given that the business events industry was one of the first sectors to be badly affected by Covid-19, and we have seen a rapid erosion over the past few months, this tough, yet proactive approach means we have a better opportunity to start planning for the future quicker and earlier than anticipated,” she said.

“CINZ will be lobbying hard to make sure we ‘congregate in our place’ as soon as the current travel and mass gathering bans are lifted, asking for all Government departments and associations to lead by example by locking in their next meetings.”

Hopkins said CINZ was in the preliminary stages of creating a Business Events Army, which would bring together those in the industry who have the ability to lend their skills to support Government departments, emergency services, and aged care.

She said new dates for MEETINGS would be announced as part of the recovery and rebuild strategy.


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