The Government’s failure to provide a timeframe for reopening the border to Australia and rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine is risking the survival of businesses in Queenstown and other southern tourist towns, National Party tourism spokesman Todd McClay says.
He told Skal International Queenstown members in the resort yesterday business owners wanted more transparency from the Government about its plans.
Australia opened its border to New Zealand last October, closing it temporarily whenever outbreaks made it necessary, and there was no reason why New Zealand could not do the same.
Businesses throughout the country were being damaged by the ‘‘yo-yoing’’ in and out of pandemic restrictions, he said.
‘‘In business, you need certainty.’’
There was a risk business owners were borrowing against their personal assets in the ‘‘blind hope’’ a two-way travel bubble with Australia would be in place sooner rather than later.
Mr McClay, who is MP for Rotorua, said there were parallels between the tourist towns, but he felt Rotorua was ‘‘not doing it so hard’’ because there were 1.8million people living in Auckland and Hamilton who could drive there in a few hours.
He agreed with Queenstown resident Derek Melnick that ‘‘radical solutions’’, such as subsidising domestic airfares to encourage people to holiday in southern South Island tourist towns, were worth looking at.
He promised to look into ‘‘rules and regulations’’ that were preventing holiday park owner Erna Spijkerbosch from adapting her business.
Mrs Spijkerbosch said the Government had urged tourism-related businesses to ‘‘morph’’ in order to survive, but long-standing laws and rules stopping her from doing so.
Her holiday parks had the facilities to provide longer-term accommodation, such as for people upgrading their homes, but tenancy laws and tax rules stood in the way.
Mr McClay visited Te Anau with Southland MP Joseph Mooney on Sunday, where they met small business owners.