Southland’s Regional Development Agency, Great South, is supporting calls for the Government to allow interregional travel from Alert Level 2.
Great South Chief Executive Graham Budd said, like all of New Zealand, Southland’s visitor industry had been significantly impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 and he was deeply concerned that further delaying the lifting of travel restrictions would pose significant risks for the viability of local business and the economic re-start of the Southland region.
“Already we know that our tourism industry is hurting, and the reality is that if travel restrictions continue, many of our local businesses will no longer be viable,”
Southland’s geographic location and low-resident population meant that the region was significantly disadvantaged compared to many other places when it came to local support for its tourism industry.
“While Southland shows tremendous community spirit, we will need interregional support to get our tourism industry through the impacts of COVID-19, as will our neighbouring regions. With approximately 60% of tourism spend across the region attributed to our domestic market, we need to ensure we can re-start visitor flows again as soon as possible to benefit from the economic opportunities that visitation can achieve,”
Great South’s call for interregional travel is made in full support of national tourism bodies such as Regional Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa. Like their industry counterparts, Great South is confident that travel, hospitality and most tourism activities can operate safely under Alert Level 2.
Mr Budd said that naturally, as well as leisure travel, the call also includes supporting the ability to travel for business, a critical part of the visitor economy, as well as enabling people to visit their friends and family.
Great South GM for Tourism and Events, Bobbi Brown, said as the regional tourism organisation, Great South was committed to supporting the local tourism sector to operate in a safe and responsible way.
“We are working to ensure that Southland is best placed to respond when travel restrictions are lifted. This means connecting our local businesses and operators with essential resources, outlining the importance of tracking and tracing processes, and driving awareness for locals and those further away on the activities and experiences will be on offer across the Southland region,”
Mrs Brown said that between the February floods, the outbreak of COVID-19 and the consequent travel restrictions, it had been a very challenging time for the industry.
“Allowing interregional travel is essential, not only for the economic relief it will provide after the last couple of months but also for the social element which is proving to be just as important for us all. We are planning for when travel restrictions are lifted and urge the Government to help make this happen sooner rather than later,”