Business and civic leaders are rallying to kickstart Rotorua's economic recovery plan post Covid-19 after key industries have taken major hits and job losses continue to climb.
One tourism operator said he could see ''no light at the end of the tunnel'' but others remained optimistic and determined to trade their way through it - with the help of locals and domestic visitors.
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Michelle Templer said the impact had been hardest felt in the tourism, hospitality, forestry and manufacturing sectors.
Templer said while ''it's definitely a hard time for many people, it's been heartening to see lots of examples coming through of businesses supporting each other and working together, particularly when it comes to talent-sharing and cross-promotion''.
''We are working with businesses on a one to one basis helping them navigate support options, and are identifying sources of training for those seeking to build skills for when things move on.''
Mayor Steve Chadwick said the framework for Rotorua's Build Back Better economic recovery plan was approved by the council on Friday, following a previous decision to align its Covid-19 response to the Government's approach to fight the virus, cushion the impact and position for recovery.
Business sector groups would play a key role in developing initiatives to boost the local economy as part of the plan, she said.
"We already know that tourism will take some time to be up and running again and hospitality relies heavily on tourism. Many accommodation providers have no or very low occupancy and retail for discretionary spend will likely struggle for some time."
"We are already talking with business leaders, iwi and Government and its agencies and they have expressed support for our approach.''
Combined, the sectors being targeted employ about 40 per cent of the local workforce.
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Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he had fielded the full spectrum of feedback from members from ''quite optimistic to extremely shattered''.
''The thing bothering them the most seems to be the uncertainty...and we don't deal well with uncertainty as a species. I tend to take the view that when things are bad you are going to get better and when they are good they are going to get worse.''
''But when we're in an up people tend to think it's gonna last forever and get complacent and when we're down they think it's gonna last forever and get morose.''
Heard said the trick was to switch your mood to the other situation.
''I think we need to be proactively planning and working and building the roads to get us out of the quagmire we are in at the moment.''
He credited the council and Rotorua Economic Development for leading the charge and said the various financial packages from the government would also help..
Now the chamber was trying to exercise its brain in two specific areas including helping businesses with those packages and helping to build some highways ''to get us out of the quagmire''.
But he acknowledged ''we cannot solve everybody's problems and we have to accept that''.
''But we can certainly soften the blow and help the recovery to happen a lot quicker if we all work together.''
Redwoods Treewalk co-founder and director Bruce Thomasen said until international tourism returned to some sense of normality the focus needed to go on the domestic visitor market.
''About 60 per cent of our visitors to the city pre-Covid are Kiwis and one in four came from Auckland. So we are hopeful New Zealanders will stay local, shop local and holiday in places like Rotorua which have many activities and attractions on offer.''
One tourism operator who asked not to be named said ''I can't see any light at the end of the tunnel''.
When the Rotorua Daily Post spoke to him he was emotional after having to inform valued staff members they no longer had jobs.
''Business as we know it has changed and I am expecting it will take two years for our recovery.''
Rotorua Association of Moteliers chairman Mike Gallagher said corporate travellers, Kiwis and conferences would be ''crucial for our survival''.
While the current situation was ''frightening'' for some moteliers he remained hopeful.
''We need to put out a big sign when the restrictions are over saying Rotorua is open for business and welcome back to our city''.
Meanwhile, industry experts expect one in every two hospitality venues in some parts of the country may never reopen following the lockdown and looming recession.
Marisa Bidois, chief executive of the Restaurant Association told NMZE the association expected about 21 per cent of the sector's 18,000 businesses would close permanently over the next 12 months.
"It's sad; it's definitely a hard time for our industry."
Recent research from the Restaurant Association, conducted before the lockdown, found that 30 per cent of hospitality operators had already restructured, seven per cent had closed permanently and 16 per cent had closed temporarily.
Build Back Better key strategies
• Build on Rotorua's strengths as outlined in the 2017 refresh of the 2030 vision The Rotorua Way.
• Create a confident business environment that encourages investment and the emergence of new sectors
• Work with business leaders to craft innovative strategies for impacted sectors.
• Position Rotorua as leading the resurgence of tourism and wood processing.
• Leverage central and local Government investment to drive employment in both the short and longer-term.
• Implement locality plans (identified in the district Spatial Plan and part of the housing plan) to connect our communities and transform our city.