By MATTHEW MCKEW
TOURISM workers are beavering away on three pilots projects that could be the prelude to a new dawn for Queenstown employment.
Workers from AJ Hackett Bungy, Go Orange, Canyon Swing, Ngai Tahu Tourism, Skyline and more have been redeployed into wilding control in Arrowtown, building a bike trail in Shotover, and making traps for pests.
Quarter of a million Department of Conservation dollars have been put towards the three projects and five others still in the pipeline.
And City Hall’s added $70,000 it received for labour redeployment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Work on the 700-metre mountain bike course off the Queenstown Trail in Shotover began last week and will finish this week.
Trail designer Fraser Gordon’s been redeployed from Go Orange and says it’s a great chance to combine his hobby with work, having been a member of Queenstown Mountain Bike Club.
‘‘It’s got a bit of a flow and a few bank turns, but obviously really close to Shotover Country and Lake Hayes, there’s lots of young families there, so it’s just an introduction to single track and mountain biking.’’
The trail’s currently Route A to B, but will later become a loop.
Council recovery manager Steve Batstone says the pilots allow the council and contractors to learn how to switch people from tourism to nature work ‘‘safely and effectively’’.
It’ll put the council in a good position to bid for money from the government’s $1.3 billion ‘Job for Nature’ programme, ‘‘before people start losing jobs and leaving the district’’, Batstone says.
Australian Bungy worker Tom Needham, 20, says he’s really enjoying the new role.
‘‘So many other companies have just made their staff redundant and they’re out of work, they’ve got to leave town, they’ve got to go home, but Bungy’s done everything they can to keep us here, especially the people on visas.’’
AJ Hackett’s taken an administrative role in the re-employment of those who’ve lost tourism jobs.
Project manager Matt Hollyer says former bus drivers to Milford and sea kayak guides are among those who’ve found work on the pilot projects.
‘‘I get to sit in front of them and say ‘hey, here’s some work, it might only be seven weeks and it’s going to be tough’ but the light comes on and there’s a big smile on their face.
‘‘They realise some will miss out and they’re some of the lucky few, and if they do well there’s going to be permanent work that rolls through from this, so they’re excited.
‘‘It’s been a real feel-good for me too.’’