Fiordland business owners feel forgotten by Government as economic crisis looms

Business owners in Fiordland say they've been forgotten by the Government and are heading for an economic crisis.

The small town of Te Anau on the way to Milford Sound says it could have a $90 million reduction in money spent there and a 40 percent increase in unemployment.

Milford Sound is breathtakingly beautiful and one of the country's biggest drawcards for overseas visitors.

But it's the locals doing the sightseeing right now. They've come to see their own back yard while they can take advantage of the cheaper deals.

"Normally it's too dear for what we want to spend," one person told Newshub.

But cheap deals aren't helping to fill the pockets of struggling businesses in this part of the country who say things are desperate.

"It is very dire, yep, we definitely need help, we need help yesterday," Te Anau TOP 10 Holiday Park owner Brad Molloy tells Newshub.

With the borders closed, Molloy's had a 70 percent decline in turnover.

"Without tourism, we haven't got employment and it's not only the businesses that suffer, it's also the primary schools and the high schools," he says.

Te Anau would usually have 80-odd buses filled with big spenders driving through to Milford every day. It's what keeps the town alive, says Southland Deputy Mayor Ebel Kremer.

"And it's been reliant on about 85 percent of its tourists being international travellers so whilst those borders are closed a township like Te Anau and Fiordland will suffer significantly," he says.

There has been good local support so far but it's not enough and there are fears after these school holidays, it will start to significantly dry up.

"Every business owner knows that that second wave is still yet to happen," Kremer says.

But the Government says it is supporting the area. Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis told Newshub there are several programmes designed to keep jobs like the wage subsidy scheme, the Milford Opportunities Project and the tourism assets protection programme which Fiordland will get $400,000 from.

But it's not quite the $10.2 million set aside for one single Queenstown business: AJ Hackett Bungy.

"And interesting that operator is still in business and we've got businesses here that are suffering," Kremer says.

"That sort of money here in Fiordland, Te Anau and Manapouri would go a long way to helping some of these small businesses out," Molloy says.

Those small businesses - many of whom are in a fight for survival.