Fiordland expects Government will help with recovery

Peter Lyons fell in love with New Zealand after returning from his OE.
Fiordland National Park. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Government will come to the rescue of struggling businesses in Fiordland, the chief executive of Southland’s regional development agency believes.

A new report from Great South has raised concerns for the Fiordland community and businesses.

The document says the area has had, with a 66% fall, the biggest decline in visitor spending in New Zealand and says 33% of its full-time employees are likely to be laid off.

This compares to a 59.8% drop in visitor spending in Queenstown and the New Zealand’s national average of 45%.

A survey, completed by 179 businesses that employed a total of 1401 workers, also showed a third of all employees in Fiordland had been or were expected to be laid off, including 60 employees on work visas.

"It should be noted that the bulk of redundancies are expected to occur in the next four to eight weeks and unemployment is expected to rise," the report said.

Great South chief executive Graham Budd said "without question" Fiordland has had the "hardest hit" in the Southland area, but he believed the Government would soon announce funding to the region.

"The Government announced only few areas and few businesses they were offering support to. We know they have more to come. I don’t think we are being missed out," he said.

Mr Budd believed the community should be pleased Queenstown received a good contribution to support its economy.

"Let hope ours is coming soon."

Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis yesterday told the Otago Daily Times Fiordland and surrounds would benefit from Government funding and activities through several programmes.

This included the Milford Opportunities Project, which was "well under way".

"The primary focus of this project is to future-proof Milford Sound/Piopiotahi to protect the area’s important conservation values and connect visitors to New Zealand’s natural, cultural and historic heritage. Part of the Milford Opportunities Project is to develop and promote Te Anau as a gateway to Fiordland."

He said $3million of funding from the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy would go towards stage two of the the project, to develop a master plan.

Mr Davis said applications had been received from Fiordland operators for support from the Government’s Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme,

which has up to $20.2million available to the 31 regional tourism organisations (RTOs) across New Zealand.

"Destination Fiordland will have access to up to $400,000 as part of this funding to RTOs."

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