Coronavirus: New report reveals extent of COVID-19's impact on West Coast jobs, businesses

A grim new report paints a sobering picture of the damage COVID-19 is doing to the West Coast's economy, with a staggering amount of jobs and businesses culled.

The Glacier Country COVID-19 impact report, released on Thursday, analyses the economic damage done to the Glacier Country, which includes Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, and surrounding settlements since the pandemic hit.

It's an area that relies on tourism and, as a result of closed borders, 62 percent of jobs have been lost and 16 percent of businesses have closed, the report shows.

"Based on Treasury-commissioned forecasts for the Westland District, in combination with survey data from businesses in Glacier County, it is estimated Glacier Country’s contribution to NZ's GDP between 2021-2025 will be down $382.1m compared to pre-pandemic levels," the report says.

"Glacier Country survey results indicate businesses are currently operating at 20 percent of their usual capacity. Based on this, we can assume GDP for March 2021 will likely be down 80 percent."

Due to the collapse of tourism activity in the Westland District, there's expected to be a 5.8 percent per annum drop in GDP until March next year.

In addition, 23 percent of people living in the Glacier Country area have left since the pandemic, according to the report.

Nearly 40 volunteers will likely be lost due to being unemployed and having to leave the area, the report says.

"Survey respondents indicated at least 264 ex-employees are known to have left the community. This figure has not been adjusted to account for people not covered in the survey, so the number will likely be higher."

The report says 41.6 percent of Glacier Country residents who lost their jobs have already left.

"It is therefore assumed the same rate of people who lose their jobs in the next six months will also leave the community."

Development West Coast, which commissioned the report, has written to Tourism and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash requesting support for the Glacier Country community.

Earlier this month, Nash said while he had sympathy for tourism businesses "bleeding all over the country", it was a "cold, hard reality" that any firms reliant on international tourism were in trouble.

"The reason we have been able to keep the vast majority of New Zealand businesses safe and people safe is we have taken this very strong health approach. But that does mean that borders have remained closed and there are no international tourists in this country."