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Could Hospitality Voucher System Help Boost NZ Economy?

Regions and cities around New Zealand looking to boost their local economies can look to South Australia for inspiration with the state’s hugely successful first round of vouchers injecting more than AUD$10 million into the tourism and hospitality industry.

According to Tourism Industry Aotearoa, hotel income in NZ was down 40% in 2020, a shortfall that is likely to continue without government support and the return of international visitors.

In South Australia the state government invested AUD$2 million in a voucher scheme offering travel vouchers up to the value of AUD$100 for locals to use at accommodation providers participating in the scheme.

The initiative, which was designed to keep people in work and give residents the chance to support local businesses, saw 24,000 people take up the offer and provide a substantial boost to Adelaide’s accommodation and hospitality industries.

A second voucher allocation on January 5 was offered countrywide and saw 75,000 more vouchers snapped up in just 40 minutes – with recipients able to book their staycation up until 31 January.

While the initiative is not available to residents from outside Australia due to border closures, it is an example of a solution countries like New Zealand could use to help boost spending in industries still suffering from the impact of the pandemic.

Sarah Goldfinch, General Manager at the newly opened Crowne Plaza Adelaide, said the voucher system helped many businesses survive a tough year, and created a boost for new hotels.

“Opening during a global pandemic had its challenges, but as a direct result of the vouchers, we were able to hire new staff and we saw strong uplift in occupancy. The vouchers definitely had the desired effect of creating jobs and building confidence in the sector. It was also a great opportunity for locals to treat themselves to world class experiences at reduced rates. We can’t wait to see the results of the second allocation.”

SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex says the voucher system has been vital in bringing life back to Adelaide’s CBD, encouraging more than 300 providers to participate in the second allocation of vouchers.

“The system’s flow-on effect meant that alongside increased bookings for accommodation providers, the retail and entertainment industries also benefited and experienced additional support from local residents.”

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