Northland tourism operators have sharply reduced the size of their businesses during the coronavirus epidemic and want the wage subsidy extended so they can keep their enterprises afloat, a new survey shows.
Up to 93 per cent of the 1600 tourism-related businesses throughout New Zealand told the Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), which conducted the survey, that they had accessed the employer wage subsidy scheme, while 30 per cent had applied for tax relief measures.
The survey was done to gauge the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector and what individual businesses are doing to survive.
There are 83 Northland businesses that are members of Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
Forty-three per cent of those run holiday parks and motels, 17 per cent are adventure, outdoor, other accommodation and hospitality businesses, 12 per cent tour are services, and the rest are other forms of tourism business such as attractions, air transport, hotels and lodges.
The bulk of them have an annual turnover of $2 million or less.
On what further action they would like to see the Government take, 71 per cent said the wage subsidy should be extended beyond 12 weeks, while 90 per cent said they'd applied for the wage subsidy.
In terms of current status, most of them said they have reduced staff and costs, and increased borrowing.
TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said the survey results showed some form of bespoke support for tourism was urgently needed beyond the initial 12 weeks of the wage subsidy.
Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans agreed, saying targeted assistance for a sector so vital to New Zealand, and Northland's economy, would benefit the country into the future.
"We've been paying a lot of taxes over the years so we'd like to see targeted Government assistance and there are a number of ways to do that. Extending the wage subsidy is one of them and the other is through cheap loans."
He said with restrictions on overseas travel and giving people the confidence to travel once the lockdown was lifted, the industry would not get to pre Covid-19 levels any time soon which was why long-term support was needed.
Jongejans said one of positives for the Northland tourism sector was that 74 per cent of tourists were Kiwis and regional travel under level 2 would give local tourism operators a huge boost.
"Northland has a sub-tropical climate, there are great things to do up here so people will come up during winter. It won't be like Christmas but let's open up travel and let's get businesses going," he said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson had said the Government would consider direct assistance to tourism industry players if the fallout from coronavirus lasted well beyond the first half of the year.
Robertson said there was no estimate of how much, in dollar terms, the impacts of coronavirus would cost the tourism sector.