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Kaikoura Council Gears Up To Tackle Unemployment

Kaikoura's unemployment rate could soar to 15% or higher, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.

That's the estimate of Kaikoura District Council chief executive Angela Oosthuizen, based on official stats relating to the town's economy.

In her latest report to council, Mrs Oosthuizen said tourism was worth $66 million a year to Kaikoura, and a quarter of the district's workforce was involved in the industry.

"We can confidently assume we will have no overseas visitors for twelve months and we should expect a 20% reduction in our GDP," she said.

More than 30 percent of Kaikoura's GDP came from tourism, one of highest rates in the country.

"We have an extremely high level of dependence on the industry; only Queenstown Lakes and McKenzie District are higher and for Westland and Rotorua it's around 15% of GDP."

The town had an even higher reliance on international tourists for overnight stays: 75% of those who stayed in the town were from overseas, she said.

Kaikoura's unemployment rate pre-Covid had been just 1.2% compared to the national average of 4% in 2019, but significant job losses were now inevitable, Mrs Oosthuisen said.

"We can expect unemployment of 15% or more for the next twelve's a big change and the community is unprepared for it."

The council had some planning to do to get Kaikoura through next summer and prepare for the reopening of NZ borders to international visitors, she said.

At its last meeting, the council agreed to set up an economic recovery governance group to support tourism and come up with projects to create jobs through the Covid-19 downturn.

The group would be underpinned by a "think-tank "of experienced business people and would meet fortnightly, Ms Oosthuizen said.

The council has appointed its Customer Service manager Susi Haberstock to the position of Recovery Manager, with a wide-ranging brief that includes supporting cultural and physical wellbeing and building community resilience.

The appointment will be cost-neutral, according to the CEO's report.

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