Queenstown mayor welcomes government support as visitor numbers drop by 95 percent

The government has thrown a multi-billion dollar lifeline to New Zealand's crippled tourism industry as part of its coronavirus package announced on Tuesday afternoon.

The aviation industry will receive a $600 million boost, and a $5.1 billion wage subsidy programme will be available for companies directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Access to this programme will be key to the survival of Aotearoa's tourism industry. 

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult called the package "far-sighted" and said the Government did well to quickly make assistance available following its drastic restrictions on arrivals to Aotearoa.

The South Island tourist hotspot has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic - the town often operates at 100 percent capacity is currently at around just 5 percent.

"We are pretty much totally reliant on tourism. From accommodation, restaurants and the like so, this has been a major hit for our district," Boult said.

"It's massive."

Boult said he hopes the majority of the wage subsidies go to those hit hardest by the tourism slump.

"I would imagine quite a lot of that support will be getting behind our businesses. It's not only those directly involved, it's the cleaning companies, the suppliers, all that sort of thing."

The mayor is hoping travel restrictions will be lifted before the ski season later this year, but expects it will take people a while to start travelling again once the border restrictions are removed.

"In reality, to get a decent level of business for the ski season restrictions needs to be off by around the end of April," Boult said.

"I think we will still be seeing the effects of this in two years time."

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