COVID-19: Ongoing visa restrictions may cost New Zealand its talented staff - ski industry leader

The chairlift at Mount Ruapehu.
The chairlift at Mount Ruapehu. Photo credit: File

A leader in the ski industry says New Zealand risks losing talented workers if they're not allowed back into the country.

Chief executive at Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, Jono Dean, said the restrictions are threatening his company's ability to open parts of Mount Ruapehu's ski fields this winter.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, entry to New Zealand remains strictly controlled.

Dean said expert staff currently denied entry may find work in other parts of the world.

"If we can't give them a decision, we run the risk of losing the expertise, and then we have to go right back to the starting point of trying to find new people to fill these roles," he said.

Dean said he has five overseas staff awaiting confirmation of their visas - a groomer operator and four specialist ski instructors.

"The applications have been in for months now. We need an outcome, to understand whether we can bring them into the industry in New Zealand.

"If we can't, it's going to have a severe impact on the terrain and services that we can open for our guests at Mount Ruapehu."

Dean said working holiday visa holders are vital for restaurants and cafes, and shortages are threatening his company's efforts to open parts of Mount Ruapehu's ski fields this winter.