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Regional tourism key to Northland’s economic bounce back

Northlanders spending on tourism hold the key to an economic bounce-back in the region as COVID-19 Alert Levels drop, say Northland business leaders.

Co-Chair of the Economic Recovery Leadership Group (ERLG), Murray Reade says that while Auckland is the greater contributor to tourism revenue in the region, that spend will take time and further Alert Level drops to come back.

“Our way through COVID-19 has to be to encourage economic activity by Northlanders who have the relative freedom of living, working and recreating in Alert Level 2.

“The annual spend on tourism in Northland is $566 million with around $161 million of that being spent by Northlanders travelling in the region.

“Obviously, the sooner that Auckland gets to Alert Level 1 the better, but we shouldn’t underestimate the positive impact of Northlanders spending at home in Alert Level 2,” he says.

ERLG Co-Chair and NorthTec CEO, Toa Faneva, says experience shows that a bounce back in economic activity will come as the region moves down Alert Levels from Level 4: “This is what we saw with the first lockdown where the bounce back was the equivalent of 75% of the activity lost through the lockdown.

“We have to wait to see how big the bounce back from this lockdown will be for the Northland economy. In the meantime, businesses and the economy continue to be bolstered through MSD support, principally through the Wage Subsidy August 2021.”

Says Faneva: “It’s also encouraging to see that new businesses established since the last Level 4 lockdown, who may have only been trading a few months, may now be eligible for the Resurgence Support Payment through Inland Revenue.”

NorthChamber CEO, Steve Smith says the shift to Alert Level 2 is welcomed by Northland businesses, adding that their goal has to be to get to Alert Level 1: “That will require extra vigilance around operating businesses safely.

“While greater contact with customers is permitted there is the requirement under Alert Level 2 for the wider use of masks inside most public venues, including shops and malls. The drop in Alert Level is an opportunity to look at your business processes, just as more small businesses have been doing with contactless trading, and your workforce planning.”

Says Smith: “If we are going to keep Northland safe from the Delta virus, we need everyone in team Northland - both businesses and consumers - to play their part by staying a safe distance, wearing masks, keeping up with hygiene measures and getting vaccinated.”

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