Call for further business support from government

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By CASS MARRETT and TRACEY ROXBURGH

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult says he’s confident Tourism Minister Stuart Nash ‘‘understands the challenges’’ the tourism industry, in particular, is facing.

Boult says he’s been outlining concerns Queenstown has going forward, with the next few weeks very much a ‘‘wait and see’’ for the Whakatipu.

‘‘The minister took on board the points I was making.

‘‘Obviously he wasn’t going to put anything on the table in a phone discussion now, but he
certainly understands the challenges that tourism, generally, has, and, in particular, our part of New Zealand.’’

Boult says, along with the move to Alert Level 2, the extension of the wage subsidy to qualifying businesses while any part of the country is at Alert Level 3 or 4 is some positive news.

The government’s also announced agreements are in place with agencies to lead the newly-available $20 million business support scheme.

That includes up to $5000 per business for expert advice on planning in response to Covid-19, and a further grant of up to $5000 to help implement the plans and advice.

Boult says a pivot from tourism is ‘‘impossible’’, and those funds are to help businesses ‘‘navigate through the difficulties they may have at the present point in time’’.

To access these funds, businesses need to sign up with the Regional Business Partners Network — applications opened on Monday.

Meantime, a petition was presented to Nash last Friday by chambers of commerce across
NZ — signed by more than 50,000 businesses — asking for the resurgence payment to be
repurposed to help small businesses, in particular, survive by taking some pressure off them in respect of fixed costs.

Nash tells Mountain Scene ‘‘the government remains open to considering other forms of business support’’.

Queenstown Chamber CEO Ruth Stokes says if the government committed to paying that
every week, ‘‘it would make a massive difference’’, particularly to small businesses.

ed@scene.co.nz