A group from across the tourism, travel, aviation, hospitality and event sectors which went to Government today seeking certainty about any further financial support is too powerful to ignore.
The 18-strong coalition is confident announcements would be coming soon from the Government. It needs to get Covid funding announcements out of the way before the election campaign proper to minimise accusations of playing politics with the pot of up to $20 billion it has in reserve following the big splurges earlier this year.
The group was represented by Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts who presented a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a meeting at the Beehive. Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis also attended the meeting. The ministers were smiling afterwards.
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A spokesman for Davis this afternoon said the Government ''continues to consider'' what help could be provided to businesses and workers still impacted by Covid once the second tranche of the wage subsidy runs out on September 1. He then restated previous announcements on tourism support and the emphasis on more targeted, sector specific support including the $400m announced in the Budget.
The wage subsidy has kept tens of thousands in work for the last four months and while
Roberts is not hopeful of any special extension he points out that in Australia targeted JobKeeper payments will run into March next year.
Instead he says other options to keep the tourism and travel sector going could include cash grants or forgivable loans. However the Government responds, the group needs answers quickly.
The earlier extension to the wage subsidy was always coming but the delay in announcing it cost jobs in tourism and travel.
Roberts says many tourism businesses - which pre-Covid was a $112m a day industry - risk being obliterated if borders don't reopen this year and they don't get further support.
Although it seems a long way away today, this crisis will ease, tourists from overseas will want to return but if there's no industry to support them, they won't come.
Likewise travel agents, many of who are working for nothing to try and get between $1.5b and $2b repatriated from overseas operators to Kiwi consumers, are in need of more help.
Although holidays abroad mean $9b is spent overseas, agents are a big part of the inbound tourism ecosystem also because the flights they arrange for Kiwis encourage more airlines to come here.
Roberts presented a letter also signed (in alphabetical order) by the Bed &
Breakfast Association, Bus & Coach Association, Conventions & Incentives NZ, Entertainment Technology New Zealand, Entertainment Venues Association, Holiday Parks, Hospitality NZ, Luxury Lodges of NZ, NZ Airports Association, NZ Cruise Association, NZ Professional Fishing Guides Association, Rental Vehicle Association, Restaurant Association, Ski Areas Association, Tourism Export Council, Travel Agents' Association of NZ and Youth Hostels Association NZ.
The signatories congratulate the Government for the ongoing success of measures to protect New Zealand from the pandemic and Roberts says nobody is pushing to open borders before it is safe.
But he also says that the group is looking to the Government to fully explore opening limited travel bubbles with parts of Australia.
A full-size bubble was on the cards until coronavirus spiked in Victoria and that could have allowed the tourist sector to limp on and make it through to the other side.
Roberts points out that Australia recently announced a targeted extension of its JobKeeper programme until March 2021.
The tourism, travel, aviation, hospitality and event sectors are all suffering directly from the necessity to have border restrictions and will need a supportive Government partner for the foreseeable future.
''Thousands of vulnerable workers remain desperately worried about their futures. If there is to be no targeted wage subsidy extension, please signal as soon as possible what form ongoing Government support for our devastated sectors will take.''
Most - certainly not all - travel and tourism businesses fall into the ''viable but vulnerable'' category the Government has said previously it would support.
By TIA's calculations close to 400,000 people were directly and indirectly employed by tourism before the pandemic struck and there about 5000 travel agents. And that all adds up to an awful lot of voters.