The number of people applying for the unemployment benefit in Queenstown has more than tripled according to statistics shared by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker.

Walker said between March 20 and April 20 the number of people who applied for the unemployment benefit in Queenstown increased from 151 to 554.

Earlier Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the national increase in Jobseeker benefits - 40,000 since March 20 - was much smaller per capita compared to the US.

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He said since the lockdown 4718 people - a tenfold increase from this time last year - had returned from overseas and were receiving a benefit.

These numbers were a fraction of the 1.6 million workers on Government wage subsidy scheme, he said.

Walker said the Queenstown figures did not include people who had lost their jobs who were not eligible because they were in relationships or are migrants.

"Almost 11,000 people have registered with the local Queenstown Lakes District Council for emergency support, with 76 per cent migrants.

"These figures are a stark reflection of the impact that the last seven weeks in lockdown has had on Queenstown businesses.

"With our local economy heavily reliant on tourism, we need urgent, targeted relief for the hundreds of businesses that are shouldering the heavy burden of the lockdown.

Tourism employers were paying a disproportionate price for the lockdown, he said.

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"A move to level two which will allow inter-regional travel will be welcome relief for many but with international tourism unlikely to be back for a long while yet, we've got a tough time ahead.


"We need to see an industry specific support package and plan in place, to support our tourism sector as they try to get back on their feet." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website