Debbie Jamieson / Stuff
Southland MP Joseph Mooney in Queenstown with National Party leader Christopher Luxon.
Backpackers are needed to rebuild New Zealand’s tourism workforce, National Party leader Christopher Luxon has said.
In Queenstown for meetings with business leaders on Thursday, Luxon said more focus needs to be put on using working holiday visas to attract backpackers to New Zealand.
“This is how we bring essential workers back here.”
Many tourism and hospitality businesses, including those in Queenstown’s ski industry, are desperate for more workers ahead of borders reopening and tourists returning.
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Luxon said New Zealand was competing with countries around the world to attract working holiday visa applicants.
Australia opened its borders before New Zealand and pushed hard to attract workers.
“They’ve only brought a third of these working holiday visa backpackers back into the country and that’s with a lot of effort, so we shouldn’t just assume it’s going to bounce back very easily,” he said. he declares.
The detail looks at how tourism businesses are coping with the dragging Covid upheaval and uncertainty, and the ‘reset’ that will bring a new kind of visitor. (First published February 1, 2022)
Reimbursing working holiday visa fees, extending the age of applicants from 30 to 35 and the ability to extend visas a second or third time would help attract people, he said.
“There are 195 countries in the world and 7.8 billion people.
“When you’re sitting in America or sitting in Europe and thinking about travel and where you might want to go, there are a lot of options. New Zealand has to compete for those workers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last month that the international border would reopen to vaccinated Australians in April and those from visa-free countries in May, two to three months earlier than planned.
“Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help boost our near-term economic recovery and is good news for the winter ski season,” Ardern said.
Luxon thought the Labor Party was “against tourism”.
“In opposition, it was one of their low-priority portfolios, assigned to junior members and moved from stalwart to post.”
He thought it was a “big” industry.
The tourism and hospitality sectors have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
He would not say if he would become Minister of Tourism if the National Party won the next general election.
“I will focus first on winning the elections. We’ll take care of all that later.