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Queenstown Lakes District Council was one of several local authorities experiencing pressure on...
Queenstown. Photo: Getty Images
A funding splash for Queenstown could provide a lifeline for some migrant workers in the resort who are facing uncertain futures.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an $85million cash injection, from the shovel-ready fund, to focus on the first stage of the long-mooted Queenstown arterial route, and town centre upgrades.

On the struggle migrant workers face, Ms Ardern said the Government was focusing on longer-term solutions, and job creation, to help those with the "legal right to work here a bit longer".

"You’ll have seen from the announcements that have come from [Tourism] Minister [Kelvin] Davis there’s an acknowledgement that actually we can, and should, continue to support domestic tourism."

While some businesses in Queenstown already benefited from a majority of domestic visitors, others would have "a bit of a hiatus".

"So it’s about supporting them in that time and supporting their workforce into other areas," she said.

That included the Department of Conservation, where more than $1billion had been invested in jobs for the environment, some of which would be short term to "essentially pick up furloughed workers who would have otherwise been in the tourism industry".

"And then, with the anticipation at some point in the future that they will go back [to tourism]."

However, in Queenstown, there is rising concern when the tourism industry eventually rebounds, employers will struggle to find the staff required to run businesses as many of the migrant workforce, the backbone of the tourism industry, will have already left New Zealand, and many more will likely face difficulties in getting their work visas renewed.

Ms Ardern said given the "huge uncertainty" at present, the Government’s focus was on preparation.

"I think if we instead focus on providing a longer-term plan, then we won’t be caught short and that’s the most important thing, in this environment, to just give as much certainty as we could.

"One of the things that has meant is using border controls.

"That is a trade-off, and places like Queenstown are contributing hugely to that trade-off because it impacts them greatly, but my hope is that they will also pick up some of the domestic tourism and some of the investment that we’re putting in with the Government."


Maybe reducing our taxes would be more effective? Throwing money into an industry that can not bounce back for another 1 or 2 years makes no sense.

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