The country’s tourism associations have welcomed the Government’s expansion of support for businesses with hopes it will mean more jobs can be saved as the industry grinds to a halt.
Finance minister Grant Robertson announced the lifting of the $150,000 wage subsidy cap, unveiled last week as part of the Government’s $12.1bn Covid-19 economic response plan.
With the cap gone, larger operators would now be able to support more of their workers.
Tourism Export Council chief executive, Lynda Keene, who warned over the weekend of an employment and business “carnage” unless support was provided, said increasing support “for all businesses of all sizes is commendable and a great start”.
“Without seeing more detail behind the announcement it is a bit early to say if for medium-large sized businesses it will make a big difference and prevent the course of redundancies being made,” she said.
Redundancies were still a major risk, especially if employers had to top up the subsidy over the length of the crisis with no revenue coming in.
“However, some breathing space has been provided, which is what we asked for and we’re thankful for that. TECNZ is keen to learn more details and how it fits into Government’s other financial support initiatives.”
Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s chief executive, Chris Roberts said more workers in the industry should be able to keep their jobs.
“I do note that the Government is expediting urgent work on new income support measures for all workers above and beyond the wage subsidy scheme. That’s going to be needed because many people are losing their jobs because businesses have no work for them.”
Roberts said while some industries could keep workers on during the impending four-week lockdown, tourism businesses were all closed.
“This is why we raised the idea of the furlough scheme introduced in the UK… because there needs to be something in between [the wage subside and the unemployment benefit]. If the employer wants them back, this is a way to keep people on ice essentially, until an employer is able to take them on.”
Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) chief executive, Lisa Hopkins, said she was “heartened to hear the finance minister relaxing some of the policies around the Business Continuity package, which will be helpful”.
“Unfortunately, we still saw Hobbiton and Te Puia, two iconic and important venues, shut their doors last week, with hundreds losing their jobs in the interim, which I know was an incredibly difficult decision. The industry needs to stand behind them and others with support.”
The industry has seen an estimated $322m disappear so far this year, said Hopkins.
“Like the rest of New Zealand, we are suffering and unlike other industries, unable to make a quick rebound.
“However the announcement [yesterday] will hopefully enable the industry to start planning for the future, something which has felt too unattainable. It will take many years to rebound to the 2019 business volumes, but it’s a start of a long-term play.”
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