National has today released our detailed plan to support the ailing tourism, hospitality and events sectors in the wake of the significant harm being done by Labour’s Covid restrictions, National’s spokesperson for Tourism and Small Business Todd McClay says.

Our Back in Business plan contains a package of urgent measures to ensure businesses survive the next 12 months, and includes a clear, detailed strategy to update our approach and unleash our economy.

Our hospitality, events and tourism businesses have been some of the hardest hit by Covid-19 restrictions, with multiple lockdowns, capacity restrictions, social distancing requirements and the loss of international and domestic tourism.

Even under Level 2 restrictions that see businesses in many other sectors able return to normal, hospitality and tourism businesses are still faced with restrictions on the number of customers they can have on their premises or the way they are allowed to interact.

Tourism and hospitality businesses need support and certainty. They have been left to fend for themselves and are now desperate.

Today we have announced a package of initiatives to assist small businesses in the tourism, hospitality and events sectors. These range from tax relief to an extension of the wage subsidy, and include three initiatives targeted specifically at these important sectors.

1. Distribute ‘Dine and Discover’ Vouchers to Support Hospitality, Accommodation and Tourism

National would provide a shot in the arm for these struggling sectors by encouraging Kiwis to get out and support their local businesses through a ‘dine and discover’ voucher system. This scheme would boost revenue, support local businesses, and keep people in jobs providing urgent support when it is most needed. 

Action:

  • We would provide ‘dine and discover’ vouchers worth $100 to every fully vaccinated adult (18+), which can be spent at any hospitality, accommodation, or tourism business in the country over the next six months.

2. Allow Restaurants and Bars to Extend Their Outdoor Seating

 The Government’s Level 2 social distancing rules and capacity limits on restaurants, bars and events venues have meant many good businesses are no longer sustainable. They have had to employ more staff for fewer customers and are running up debt.

Many towns and cities around the world have implemented temporary measures to extend outdoor seating during the pandemic to reduce risk and offset the social distancing requirements.

As we approach the summer months, New Zealand should embrace this concept allowing our restaurants and bars to temporarily expand their outdoor seating.

Action:

  • We would let hospitality businesses extend outdoor seating into public spaces wherever safe and practical for the next six months (overriding council bylaws if these are an impediment).

3. Establish an Insurance Scheme for Major Events

 The events industry has suffered significantly from the sudden imposition of lockdowns, and the lack of certainty or a plan around when Alert Level changes will be made. This has meant that events businesses have been left holding the can, incurring significant losses, and are now close to failure.

Disappointingly, Labour rejected an industry-led insurance scheme earlier this year which would have provided $20m to the events businesses when they put New Zealand back into Level 4 restrictions. These businesses are out of pocket because of the Government’s short-sightedness.

Action:

  • National would establish an insurance scheme to allow major events to be planned with confidence that lockdowns won’t result in significant financial losses for organisers, customers or suppliers.
  • We would retarget unspent money from the Regional Events fund to help events businesses directly
  • We would work support the events sector’s own initiative for a similar scheme for smaller events and businesses.

Before Covid, tourism was our largest export earner, worth $41 billion to the New Zealand economy and employing more than 400,000 people.

Tourism, hospitality and events businesses have been badly affected by Covid-19. If they are to contribute to New Zealand’s rebuild, we need them to survive. National is calling on the Labour Government to adopt our plan and support these important Kiwis and their businesses.

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National’s Plan to Support Tourism, Hospitality and Events Businesses
Press Release

Press Release

This article is a press release that has been published in full and un-edited by The BFD.