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Labour keeps handbrake on tourism

PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP & Todd McClay MP | 06 February 2023 -

Labour keeps handbrake on tourism

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ shuffling of the deck chairs around Tourism will be no consolation for the thousands of tourism businesses who remain desperately short of staff, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay say.

“There may be a new Labour leader and a new Minister, but the same problems exist for tourism businesses,” Mr McClay says.

“The latest data shows the tourism sector could be short as many as 80,000 staff – around 13,000 more than estimated last year.

“As international visitors have started to return to our shores, many have found bars and restaurants closed or service slow because of Labour’s failure to address worker shortages and speed up visa processing.

“National values tourism. We see it as one of our core industries and a great driver of economic growth, particularly in the regions. Prior to Covid-19 tourism was New Zealand’s biggest export earner– bringing in $40 billion to the economy and employing more than 220,000 New Zealanders.”

National has a plan to get tourism back in business:

  • We will free up immigration settings by attracting working holiday makers to New Zealand. To do that we will refund application fees if they arrive here before a certain date to encourage arrivals over the winter period and allow multiple applications for those working in industries where there are significant shortages.

  • We will focus Immigration New Zealand on processing visitor and work visas as fast as possible.

  • We will scrap the median wage requirement and replace it with an industry average that reflects skills and experience.

  • We will make sure that key roles in the tourism sector have a pathway to residence so we can attract them here.

  • We will maintain open work rights for partners of work visa holders. A skilled worker will not choose to come to New Zealand if their partner is unable to work.

“We are in a global war for talent, and we need to make ourselves as attractive as possible to have any hope of filling the shortage of workers that is a handbrake on the economy,” Ms Stanford says.


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