Jobs are hanging in the balance for the Tauranga event, tourism and hospitality sectors with those in the business saying they need a wage subsidy extension. Journalist Kelly Makiha reports.
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Tauranga's once thriving event, tourism and hospitality sectors say they need the Government to give them a wage subsidy extension.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicated yesterday the wage subsidy scheme would be extended for some sectors after the 12-week period expired.
However, she said it would be more targeted after it ran out on June 30.
"We are looking to target more directly those in that category of not being able to operate in the same way," Ardern said.
Bay of Plenty Event Hire co-owner John Culpitt said his business would struggle to survive after 12 weeks if it didn't get an extension to the wage subsidy.
"Until we can have mass gatherings again of 300 or more, we will not be back in action.
"We have ground to a halt."
Culpitt said they employed four full-time workers and several people on a casual basis.
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"Ideally we don't want to let anyone go because without experienced guys when we kick back into it, we won't get the job done. If we get it for another 12 weeks, hopefully we won't need to lose any staff."
Waimarino Adventure Park owner Blair Anderson said he employed about 40 people throughout the conference, tourism and after-school care sectors of its business.
So far it hadn't lost any staff but the tourism side of the business wasn't likely to re-open until level 1.
"It is getting very close (to losing staff). We have gone from hero to zero. We were watching the numbers disappear and from a business owner's perspective, it is scary when it is completely out of your control."
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said tourism operators couldn't open until alert level 2 at the earliest because regional travel was prevented and social distances couldn't be guaranteed.
"This is pertinent to tourism, hospitality and retail."
"As New Zealand's largest export earner, tourism is a critical industry for New Zealand's economic recovery. While we will be working hard to encourage residents of the Bay of Plenty to enjoy staycations and support local tourism businesses, it is clear that these businesses will take longer to recover from the impact of lockdown."
She said Infometrics data to the year ending March 2018 showed tourism employed 7652 people in the Coastal Bay of Plenty. That included 6088 people in Tauranga, making up 8.5 per cent of the city's jobs, 650 people in the Western Bay of Plenty, making up 2.8 per cent of the district's jobs, and 914 people in the Whakatāne district, making up 5.9 per cent of the district's jobs.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said businesses were anxious about what might happen after the wage subsidy finished.
"They are currently operating at reduced capacity due to the Government's health and safety restrictions. This means they will need to make decisions in May about their staffing levels, noting the standard four-week redundancy notice period for most staff, to prepare for 1 July when the current wage subsidy scheme is over."
Cowley said nearly every entertainment venue would likely be restricted under level 2.
Tauranga's Bay Venues and Rotorua's Energy Events Centre were two examples of businesses that were unlikely to operate under level 2, he said.
"Both businesses are owned by Tauranga City and Rotorua Lakes councils respectively.
"These entities need to receive additional Government support after 30 June otherwise the economic impact will sit solely with Tauranga and Rotorua ratepayers."
Cowley said there were a number sectors needing an extension to wage subsidies in level 2, including hospitality, retailers and shopping malls, movie theatres, hairdressers, physios, osteopaths and massage day spas.
Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey said the Waiariki region was made up of hard-hit industries like events and tourism and the subsidy had been crucial.
"We need to continue to ensure at risk workers can get by after the initial wage subsidy scheme has ended if needed."
He said any extension needed to be balanced with the fact that to date, it had cost New Zealand more than $10 billion which needed to be paid back.
"We have a responsibility to New Zealanders now and in the future to borrow and act responsibly."
He said the Government had just announced $10,000 to $100,000 interest-free loans for all small businesses in New Zealand and what he called a "landmark tax relief package" for the business sector.
"I am confident many businesses will be more financially independent again, as the initial wage subsidy timeframe closes."
Coffey, who runs two hospitality businesses in Rotorua - Our House and Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar - said if hospitality were to be given an extension, many more jobs would be saved.
He said his businesses employed 23 staff who were all still employed thanks to the wage subsidy scheme.