The NZ Government on Thursday, 14 May 2020, presented the Budget 2020 comprising of several packages and relief measures for businesses, workers as well as economy. The Budget centres around the aim of creating new jobs and bringing the unemployment levels to pre- COVID-19 levels within the next two years.
With a focus on jobs and the economic rebuild, the Budget is said to be a support for the people who are most affected by the current global downturn due to COVID -19. One of the sectors that remain impacted for an unknown period is the tourism sector as it still remains far from trading at normal levels.
On one hand, the shutting down of borders has resulted in the successful controlling of COVID-19 in the country; however, the same had blocked revenue streams for the tourism industry which was supported by millions of visitors.
In order to support the recovery of the tourism industry from the impact of the pandemic, the Government declared a $400 million tourism recovery package which is expected to help businesses in the industry to recognise their future, support M?ori tourism, defend iconic tourism assets and secure long-term sustainability for the sector.
Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern in her speech, commented:
“We are extending the wage subsidy for another eight weeks with a focus on providing support to businesses who have been particularly affected by COVID-19”
She Further added:
“This will mean employers in sectors like tourism and other small businesses across the country will be supported, and it will ease the recovery for thousands”
The injection of the fund is expected to support the first stages of an action plan agreed with the industry, including
- A transitions programme to support businesses to plan for the next steps
- A fund to ensure key tourism assets survive
- A domestic tourism marketing campaign and a public/private taskforce to shape the future of the industry
Tourism Transitions Programme
This program is aimed at providing advice and backing for either pivoting a business towards the domestic and Australian market, hibernating a firm, or other alternatives. Moreover, customer insight and views of overseas market conditions shall be offered by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) to help businesses make prudent decisions regarding their futures.
The fund is also expected to extend its assistance to NZ M?ori Tourism in order to offer the Transitions Programme straight to its stakeholders.
Business Advisory Programme Established
Further, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have established a business advisory programme that shall be managed through Tourism New Zealand and Qualmark and is designed to assist tourism operators in enduring a sustainable way ahead through the COVID-19 crisis with a focus on continuity of businesses.
Collaborative work on the impact has already begun through coordination between the nominated advisory businesses and clients in the tourism sector.
Designed around a one on one framework; the programme shall function through an approved methodology and identifying key actions and advice tourism business issues while also assisting the leaders within the business.
Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme
New Zealand’s domestic tourism offering, as well as international brand as a tourist destination, is significantly driven by the key tourism assets, in the form of attractions and amenities. As a result of the effects of COVID-19, these are at risk, and national or regional recoveries are likely to slow down if these are lost and shall have a material impact on some communities.
The Budget aims identification of such strategic assets and offer them with the protection and assistance they require so that they are not lost through the fund.
Tourism Recovery Ministers Group
Overseeing of the Tourism Recovery Package as well as recovery of the tourism industry shall be undertaken by the Tourism Recovery Ministers Group, whose members shall comprise of Ministers of Tourism, Finance, M?ori Development, Conservation, and the Under Secretary of Regional Economic Development.
New Zealand Futures Tourism Taskforce
The public-private taskforce, New Zealand Futures Tourism Taskforce shall consist of cross-government and tourism sector representatives and is expected to lead the thinking on the future of tourism in New Zealand.
Moreover, the taskforce shall further prioritise the present and potential issues that shall transform and influence tourism in New Zealand while also offering the recommendations on additional policy and regulatory restructuring in the sector.
Domestic Activity Kicks Off
As New Zealand had moved to alert level 2 and safe travel started with several guidelines to follow, activities of Tourism New Zealand have also been initiated to facilitate the recovery of the tourism industry that has been lying unoperated for a significant period of time.
In the pre-COVID-19 scenario, the tourism industry of New Zealand played an important role in the economy of the country, engaging one in eight people and supporting communities to thrive.
Recently, the Government announced responsibility for Tourism New Zealand to undertake domestic activity, including research, insights, campaigns, engagement, and marketing activity to confirm the suitable positioning of the tourism industry for recovery.
Prior to the COVID-19 situation, a major portion (60 per cent) of the tourism expenditure of New Zealand was contributed by the domestic travellers setting out to experience their own country.
Tourism New Zealand is in preparation of a package of domestic activity that shall be rolled out soon and shall include:
- Social media activity encouraging safe travel
- Working with the regional tourism organisations and operators to help them promote their regions and products to New Zealanders
- A countrywide campaign to encourage Kiwis to get out and experience their own backyard
- Development of insights and data packs for the industry to learn more about the domestic audience so they can tailor their offering to them
- Content partnerships with key media outlets
Border restrictions are expected to prevail for some time, which means that the time for the businesses and tourism centres is around the corner to rethink and re-imagine evolution in the industry. Further, the wage subsidy scheme is expected to support tourism businesses and jobs as soon as the domestic tourism gears up. However, the opening of international tourism, especially with Australia and China, shall be a major governing factor for the future of the tourism industry in New Zealand.