The Auckland hospitality industry says they’re “absolutely crushed” to find out they have been excluded from the Government’s voucher scheme designed to get residents exploring their backyard this summer.
The Government announced on Wednesday morning it was releasing 100,000 vouchers for Aucklanders to access local attractions and get discounts, with an opt-in system for commercial operators.
The zoo, swimming pools, museums, and galleries are expected to be part of the scheme.
The Restaurant Association said it was a tough blow for businesses that hadn’t been operating normally for months because of lockdown.
“For 475 days we have been calling for targeted support, yet every call has fallen on deaf ears,” the association said.
“We are absolutely crushed for our Auckland businesses that have been closed for months on end and are left with nothing in this package."
The association said it suggested a ‘dine and discover’ voucher scheme in September that was “eerily similar” to Wednesday’s announcement.
“It’s about increasing demand and building the confidence with consumers, and we feel strongly that including hospitality in this scheme would absolutely do that,” it said.
“It is another kick in the guts for morale for this industry that has been brought to its knees.”
Todd McClay, the National Party's small business spokesperson said the Government had missed an opportunity to help a struggling sector.
“For some reason, the Government has decided the businesses that need help to get back on their feet, as Auckland comes out of a three-month lockdown, are council-owned facilities like swimming pools and the zoo," McClay said.
“There is nothing in this package for hospitality, accommodation or tourism businesses, many of whom are on the brink of failure."
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to re-open under the Red setting of the traffic light system from Friday.
“I expect there will be demand for restaurants. I think there are a lot of people in Auckland who can’t wait to get out and be able to dine out and enjoy those kinds of freedoms again,” he said.
Hipkins said encouraging people to go out and see attractions with the voucher system will also end up benefitting the hospitality sector, anyway.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the vouchers would "help get Aucklanders out and experience the city while providing much-needed foot traffic in the CBD".
The scheme, known as the 'Explore Tāmaki Makaurau this summer' programme, is expected to cost $12 million.
The vouchers are available for families and individuals with an Auckland postcode.
People can register their interest from December 15.
The vouchers can be redeemed up until the end of April 2022.