Clarity around Covid traffic light levels and timeframes, less confusion around mandates and financial support packages, and a call to open borders to international tourists as soon as possible – these were some of the concerns voiced to Taupō MP Louise Upston earlier this week.
The MP headed an open-air meeting at Mighty River Domain at Lake Karāpiro on Monday. The aim was to hear about problems being experienced by tourism and hospitality businesses, and events and accommodation providers, and clarify the message they want her to take to government officials in Wellington.
Among those attending were Waipā District Council deputy mayor and Lake Karāpiro site manager Liz Stolwyk, Waipā councillor Philip Coles, Destination Cambridge chief executive Miff Macdiarmid, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce chief executive Kelly Bouzaid.
The overwhelming call was for a change in alert levels to allow for an easing around numbers at gatherings, and for government to fast-track plans to allow people from overseas back into the country. That would help event planners to work with confidence on staffing upcoming events and would help accommodation providers and caterers who are currently struggling with fluctuating bookings linked to ongoing uncertainty.
All there agreed on the need to recalibrate MIQ regulations and other mandates which were considered past their use-by date. Growing compliance issues and confusion around Covid rules was believed to be increasing levels of Covid-fatigue within the broader community, and calls were made for the government to provide clarity.
Several at the meeting said there was a need to adjust the way financial support to small businesses was being determined. Losses being experienced by businesses left with no reserves after two difficult years was said to be adding to problems burdening already over-stressed families.
Louise Upston agreed there was a need to push government for more clarity so businesses could plan with more confidence. Like others present, she said confused and muddled messaging from the government was affecting not only New Zealand residents, but by being seen as ‘all over the park’, New Zealand risked losing out on valuable international talent who were likely to take their skills elsewhere.
“I know it’s tough out there,” she said. “We have gone through some extraordinary challenges. I continue to be optimistic that we will get through to the other side.”