No Christmas for Taupō

Louise Upston MP has echoed the community’s frustration at the Government's announcement last week that Taupō will not move to orange until 11.59pm on 30 December.

"Many businesses have been in touch with me conveying their concerns around the ongoing delays in Taupō moving from red to orange in the traffic light system.

"While there are a few cases, the reality is that at current vaccination rates of over 90% for the first dose and 87% for the second dose, a high percentage of the Taupō district population is already protected.

Ms Upston says the feedback she is receiving from the Chamber and the economic development agency Amplify is that businesses are upset, frustrated and feel penalised.

Accommodation suppliers booked for events have had cancellations since the announcement, with one advising a loss of up to $20,000 in income. No further support for wages means some hospitality businesses' revenue has declined to below 40%, leaving them in dire straits.

"The requirement that all visitors leaving Auckland on 15 December needing proof of a negative COVID test 72 hours before, or a vaccine pass, further reduces the risk of transmission, so it's unclear why Taupō remains at red?"

"While the recently released Infometrics quarterly economic update for the Taupo District is encouraging, the delay of a further two weeks before businesses can reap the benefits of the local tourism trade, mainly from Auckland, is disappointing.

"The report indicates the harmful effects of lockdown on GDP of our local economies, and moving Taupō to orange in time for the Christmas trade would have helped alleviate a further decline.

"Even more concerning is a recent BusinessNZ forecast for the December 2021 quarter that indicates it is unlikely New Zealand will see a strong economic upswing as predicted at the beginning of the August lockdown with the “economic effects of Covid-19 likely to be felt well into 2022.”

Ms Upston says that with the international borders remaining shut well into 2022, every day that local businesses can reap the rewards of a domestic tourism market is vital, especially for those in hospitality.

"We have very few cases as of today. Our community has done its part to get vaccinated. I call on the Government to do the right thing and move Taupō to orange immediately."

ENDS

Media contact: Louise Upston 027 476 7887