Senior Labour Government Minister Damien O’Connor’s comments about the tourism sector are appalling and offensive, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Mr O’Connor said Covid-19 had taught the tourism sector to ‘not be so cocky’.
“His comments are tone deaf and out of touch with the devastation that’s taking place in tourism under his Government’s watch. They are reflective of a Government that’s sitting by as hardworking Kiwis and their businesses go to the wall.
“This week more Kiwis will be forced to lay off their staff and close their businesses. They are not cocky.
“Tourism was our largest export earner and employed more than 400,000 people. Hardworking Kiwis have borrowed against their houses and poured their life savings into keeping their businesses afloat.
“They need a Government that will support them until visitors return. Instead what they’ve got is their own Tourism Minister telling them to close up and another senior Minister that they were cocky.
“Australia has worked out tourism is worth saving. They’ve offered extra support to their sector including half price flights to boost local tourism and they welcomed Kiwis to their shores in October last year.
“Meanwhile our Government is being dragged towards a trans-Tasman bubble, but its lack of urgency will mean it’ll come too late for many.
“Tourism needs a real plan and urgent action now, not repeated criticism from the Government.
“These are Kiwis who are losing their businesses and livelihoods, they deserve better.”