Views: Diversified economy needed for recovery

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The road to economic recovery will be tough, but Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce vice-chairwoman Celia Crosbie says working together can help the community thrive.

Economic impact modelling by data analytics company Infometrics paints a bleak picture for the Queenstown Lakes District.

Unemployment is forecast to rise from 1.1% in March 2020 to 18.5% in March 2021 and local job losses are expected to result in lost earnings of $270 million.

The district’s GDP is projected to contract by 23.3% ($633 million) to March 2021, compared to an 8% decline nationally.

With tourism accounting for 64% of all jobs in the Queenstown Lakes District, and with a heavy reliance on international tourists, contributing to 63% of all local tourist spending, Infometrics said our region will be “acutely affected by the pandemic”.

These figures are based on a “do nothing” scenario, whereby the trans-Tasman bubble commences in December, instead of September, there is no Government infrastructure stimulus and a low share of domestic tourists visiting the district.

While the trans-Tasman bubble date is uncertain, it’s unlikely a “do nothing” approach will be an option. From an attitudinal perspective, it’s just not in our psyche.
But we all know our district needs to diversify our economy, so we aren’t reliant on tourism.

This topic isn’t new to Wanaka. It formed the basis of the 2014 Gigatown Wanaka campaign, when the chamber and a group of volunteers looked at tech to diversify our economy.

Queenstown Lakes District Council is launching an online “ideas portal”, allowing locals to participate in the process of generating recovery ideas.
It will be great to see what comes out of that.

At a local level, agencies and organisations like Ignite Wanaka have been working hard behind the scenes, collaborating to safeguard our community’s welfare and wellbeing, to promote our region to New Zealand and to inform our business community about what’s going on at a local and central government level — plus providing ways to upskill our local workforce through events and training.

Ignite is part of MahiQL, a collaboration between the council, employers, chambers of commerce and social agencies with the common goal of attracting, retaining and optimising our district’s talented workforce.

The road to recovery will be tough, and it will take time.
We all need to work together to create a thriving and diverse economy not reliant on tourism.
Don’t forget to support local — everyone benefits from a thriving business community.

-Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce vice-chairwoman Celia Crosbie.