Minister Ignoring The Plight Of The Tourism Coach Sector
The latest announcement by the Minister of Tourism is a continuation of the Government trying to “pick winners” instead of looking at supporting the wider tourism ecosystem, says Bus and Coach Association Acting Chief Executive, Alex Voutratzis.
“After 12 months of no international tourism, the Government has not recognised our sector. We’ve been asking the Minister for support to help us get back on our feet. We want a hand up, not a handout.
“The Minister, in his latest announcement, had the opportunity to give us that hand up, but he didn’t,” Mr Voutratzis adds.
“There is very little in the Minister’s announcements that support our members” Mr Voutratzis said.
“Initiatives like the kick-start fund to help hibernated businesses, won’t help. To survive the last year, our members have sold coaches, their homes, and other assets. You can’t hibernate from your lenders”.
“Had the Minister chosen to leave the loans to the Inbound Tourism Operators as loans instead of changing them to grants, this would have freed up over $12 million dollars to help our members survive.
“Over $170 million has been spent on picking winners through the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (STAPP). Our members own tourist assets, but since transport assets weren’t eligible for the STAPP, they’ve effectively been shut out of the process.
For Mr Voutratzis, “there’s lack of appreciation, from decision-makers, that nearly 40% of all tourists in the year prior to COVID-19 used a coach to travel around New Zealand.
“Our members are critical for the tourism sector’s recovery. They are the ones who carry the bulk of our high-end international visitors from diverse countries like South Korea, USA, UK, and Japan.
Mr Voutratzis adds, “without financial support for our members the Government will unnecessarily drag out the tourism recovery, at the expense of livelihoods, business certainty, and economic growth”.