Hanmer Springs facing staff, housing shortages as summer looms

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot. Photo: Supplied
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot. Photo: Supplied
Hanmer Springs' businesses gearing up for a busy summer say they’re facing an "urgent crisis" with staff and accommodation shortages.

Hospitality, tourism and retail venues are urgently searching for workers, with some operators already forced to reduce opening hours given the lack of staff.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot said the pools have no trouble attracting visitors (they set a new record last year) but attracting permanent staff is proving to be an issue.

"We’re gearing up for another big summer but we just can’t find enough staff to see us through," Abbot said.

"Staff numbers are important to ensure we keep our community and our visitors safe. The current pandemic means we may have to manage alert level changes."

Hanmer Hospitality is also feeling the pinch of staffing and accommodation shortages.

Alan McNabb, who owns and operates five venues in the village, said he is now at the end of his tether.

"It’s horrific. I’ve lost 13 staff over the last three weeks and am about to lose another three chefs.

"We’ve cut opening hours so we can give the few staff we do have breaks.

"I need at least another 10 to 15 staff to get through this summer but I have nowhere for them to stay either."

Alan McNabb. Photo: Supplied
Alan McNabb. Photo: Supplied
McNabb said the closed border is one of the main reasons for the worker shortage.

"Hanmer Springs village was previously a hot spot for backpackers wanting to earn some money on their travels," he said.

"They accounted for at least 50 per cent of the workforce - now they’re hard to find.”

"This is a great place for any students wanting to earn some cash over the summer break. Living here is like being on holiday 24/7.

"Who wouldn’t want to live in an alpine paradise where you clock off from work and venture into mountains, forests or thermal pools?”

Visit Hurunui spokesperson Shane Adcock said its is working with agencies to run recruitment drives and campaigns to attract staff to the region.

"We’re doing everything we can to ensure our regional operators can head into summer in a strong position," Adcock said.

"Regional spend has been up throughout the year and we want to maintain this upward trajectory by having staff on the ground.

"We know it’s a cool place to visit but to be able to stay a while and really get involved in the community - that’s pretty special.”



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