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COVID-19 impact on local tourism operators

With 90 per cent of businesses in one sector reporting significant impact from COVID-19, ChristchurchNZ welcomes the financial package announced by the government today as a great relief for the local economy.   

The $12.1bn package includes wage subsidies, self-isolation support, opportunities for tax payment deferrals, and depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings.   

Impact data was gathered as part of a survey distributed last week to ChristchurchNZ’s tourism business partners.  Another survey for other sectors is currently underway. 

Other highly exposed sectors include Canterbury’s primary industries, as well as hospitality, retail and manufacturing.  

Since the tourism survey was distributed, the government has announced significant travel restrictions due to COVID-19 which will have far reaching ramifications.  

Joanna Norris, ChristchurchNZ CEO, said the primary consideration for New Zealand, and our region, remained public health. Further spreading of the virus would have even greater economic impact, she said.  

The government’s $12.1bn financial package would come as a great relief to local businesses and would give businesses time to consider their cost structure and plan for the ongoing impacts of this global economic shock, she said. 

The government package – which includes $8.7bn in support for businesses and jobs - would play a crucial role in mitigating the seriousness of this impact, particularly given the upcoming winter season.  

To support our region in these unprecedented times, ChristchurchNZ is also be launching a new campaign, Explore your Place, to help residents safely support local businesses and maintain city momentum. 

Explore your Place will provide inspiration for how locals can safely support Canterbury businesses, including cafes, bars, shops and restaurants, and continue to be active and enjoy the best of their region. Public health remains the priority.  

The tourism operator survey results show ninety-three per cent of business respondents have experienced a drop in visitor numbers, with nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) stating COVID-19 had already had a significant impact on their business.  

About thirty per cent considered the impact moderate, and about 20 per cent said the impact so far had been minor.  

The $250,000 domestic marketing support package announced from central government last week has been paused at the request of Regional Tourism New Zealand until further information is provided on domestic travel.  

The ChristchurchNZ survey was sent out on March 11 to our tourism business partners – 97 regional and city businesses have responded so far. 

Most operators have seen a reduction in visitor numbers from the Chinese market (cited as biggest reduction by 70 per cent of respondents), followed by Europe, the rest of Asia, the US and Canada and Australia, the UK, and Japan and Singapore (in ranked order). 

Many cited a significant drop in bookings and were concerned about the upcoming winter period.  

Operational impacts on businesses were predominantly financial (cited by more than 90 per cent), followed by staffing (80 per cent cited), capacity (about 60 per cent) and other (about 20 per cent). 

Operators surveyed were planning on focusing on local markets instead and wanted to see the city and region support this approach, while also working on a long-term approach to re-engage international markets.  

ChristchurchNZ is committed to ensuring sustainable prosperity for all businesses in our region and is working hard with central government and industry stakeholders to offer support as the situation evolves. 

The tourism operators survey remains open. Headline survey results follow below. Surveys addressing other industries have also been sent out to local businesses with results expected later this week. 

For more information or interviews, contact keith.lynch@christchurchnz.com