A group of Alexandra travel agents and staff are going the extra mile to protect their jobs in the wake of Covid-19.

House of Travel Otago managing director/owner John Harley was forced to slash his staff’s work hours by 40% after New Zealand’s border was closed in March.

The team at House of Travel Alexandra responded by hatching a plan to make money for Mr Harley’s business in their spare time.

Their solution: a cheese rolls fundraiser. Their sales pitch: $20 for three dozen. Sold so far: 700 dozen.

Jess Thomas, who has led the team’s fundraising project, was pleased they could do something for Mr Harley, whom she described as ‘‘a great boss’’.

‘‘I think everything is OK while we have the subsidy going, but it makes me feel a bit sad to be taking money from his pocket [once the subsidy ends].

‘‘It just doesn’t sit right.’’

Mrs Thomas said there was ‘‘no light at the end of the tunnel’’ for the tourism industry.
‘‘Until the borders open up, we are at the mercy of the wage subsidy.’’

Throughout lockdown ‘‘everyone was in the same boat’’.

‘‘Everyone was out of work and everyone was biding their time.

‘‘Slowly, but surely, every industry has got back to some type of normal — there’s a chance.

‘‘With our industry there hasn’t been a chance to just start, so we need to think outside the box to tread water until we can start selling travel.’’

Mrs Thomas’ colleague Robbie Bell came up with the idea of a cheese rolls fundraiser and fellow colleague Ashleigh Anderson has facilitated the online orders.

Mrs Thomas was the driving force to make sure the project happened.

‘‘It’s been a bit of a team effort to get the job done.’’

She said it had been sad that much of their time at work was spent cancelling people’s plans and holidays.

‘‘It will be good to have something to do [rather] than cancel people’s dreams and it will be nice to turn over a sum of money for John to keep things going,’’ she said about the cheese rolls project.

The team, which has been supported by New World Alexandra and Trents, will endeavour to meet demand.

‘‘We’ll keep going and going and will take orders until they stop coming in,’’ Mrs Thomas said.

‘‘We are planning to be doing them all through June. We will just keep making them if the orders keep coming in.’’

Mr Harley said the team’s efforts were ‘‘appreciated’’.

‘‘I’ve said we’ve got to pull together to get through this whole crisis, but I didn’t expect anything like this. I really admire what they’ve done,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s really humbling that the staff do that sort of thing.’’

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