Parliament’s return on Monday saw National MP Todd McClay question tourism minister Kelvin Davis on the impact of alert level restrictions on the tourism and hospitality sectors.
The MP for Rotorua and National’s tourism spokesman asked Davis if he was concerned that the Government’s wage subsidy did not “go far enough to protect jobs in industries like tourism and event management?”
“We know that businesses are hurting, and businesses in tourism are hurting, but the Government has done the best it can to try and cushion the blow,” said Davis.
The transcript of the exchange below and the video from Parliament TV above.
Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers Sitting date: 28 Apr 2020
Question No. 11—Tourism
11. Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister of Tourism: What official estimates has he received, if any, of business failure and job loss in the tourism and hospitality sector as a result of the COVID-19 level 3 and 4 restrictions?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Tourism): Treasury has clearly outlined the various unemployment scenarios that could be possible as a result of COVID-19. Many of those job losses will come from the tourism sector. At the moment, Tourism New Zealand is undertaking a stakeholder survey, which will provide more of an insight into the current state of the sector—how we work together to respond, restart, and reimagine the tourism sector into the future.
Hon Todd McClay: Is he concerned that the Government’s wage subsidy doesn’t go far enough to protect jobs in industries like tourism and event management, where business has been entirely closed for an extended period of time?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Preliminary results from Tourism New Zealand stakeholder surveys show that 1,382 respondents, or 87 percent, had accessed wage support, including the wage subsidy and essential workers leave payments, as well as 18 percent of respondents had accessed tax relief measures, and 11 percent had accessed support to assist in assessing finance. We know that businesses are hurting, and businesses in tourism are hurting, but the Government has done the best it can to try and cushion the blow.
Hon Todd McClay: What reports has he heard of tourism businesses like Ngāi Tahu or Skyline or Te Puia having to close or reduce staff despite the Government’s wage subsidy scheme?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: As the Minister of Finance has often said, the wage subsidies in the business assistance package were there to cushion the blows. And he’s also been very clear that we will not be able to save every job.
Hon Todd McClay: What specific action is he going to take now to help the tens of thousands of workers in the tourism sector who are facing job losses irrespective of the job subsidy?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Tourism New Zealand has been tasked with the job of reimagining the future of tourism. They’re working alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Department of Conservation and stakeholders. A plan is coming together, and the member will have to wait and see exactly what that plan is in terms of us supporting the tourism sector into the future.
8 May 2020 Davis to industry: Watch next week’s Budget