Queenstown businesses call for Government support before COVID-19 decimates industries

Hospitality New Zealand says a huge portion of its industry will close its doors for good if a Government support package isn't announced immediately.

The industry says three years of a pandemic and the current rules are decimating their industry with many businesses closing permanently every day.

Queenstown used to be New Zealand's poster child, bringing in crowds and dollars from around the world.

Now the adventure capital is in the midst of a COVID close down.

"It's the quietest I've ever seen it, in my life," one local said.

"Half the place is closed down," another said.

"It is a desperate situation," Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult says.

Like many areas, the Central Otago town has limped its way through lockdowns and a border slammed shut, but Omicron and isolation rules are the final snowball in the avalanche.

"Central government needs to recognise what's happening here and step up to the plate now," Boult says.

"It's affecting the livelihoods of businesses, families, kids," a person said.

"It's breaking point now, just because there's no pathway," another resident said.

And it's a pathway that hospitality and retail right around the country are crying out for. The Government has indicated some sort of specific and time-limited support is on the way, but refuses to be drawn on what and when.

"We're working on it as quickly as we can," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

But Mayor Boult has made his town's wishes very clear.

"I'm asking for the reintroduction of the wage subsidy, a rent subsidy and some sort of soft loan programme," Boult says.

Hospitality NZ recently conducted a survey which found many businesses are on the brink.

"Since Omicron's come, things have gotten harder than what they were before Christmas," Charing Cross Cheesery owner Guy Trafford says.

"We're not talking about a handful of closures, we're talking about an industry-wide closure," Hospitality NZ's Julie White says.

She says 70 percent of businesses have already had to get rid of or cut staff and the Government needs to cough up. 

"Some of our members have said if they don't hear of a package this weekend they're going to close and that's a permanent closure," White says.

Pressure is mounting on the Government to announce a worthy support package before the sun sets on hundreds more businesses.