Many South Westland business owners are “doing it tough” since Covid-19 closed New Zealand‘s border to international tourists, a report said.
The report mentioned Hitesh Talreja who purchased a successful business in 2015 but now has to return the lease for $1.
Talreja assumed control of the Fox Glacier Inn backpackers and motel, as well as the Bigfood Bar and Restaurant. He employed as many as 20 people during busy seasons.
He bought the business with a 15-year lease but made the difficult decision to put it into hibernation in June last year after the international borders closed.
“I returned the lease for $1. All the chattels are up for sale – everything, including a full commercial kitchen, beds, and spa pool.”
He had just moved to Queenstown and was now working as a real estate agent.
The report also mentioned Rui Jun Li whose family purchased Sunset Motels in Fox Glacier four years ago with a 30-year lease but decided to sell it.
“We will keep trying because we would lose everything if the business were to close. We will just have to watch and wait and see what happens. We hope the borders open next year or in six months.” He said that it was difficult.
MarketView data shows that spending in Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, and other areas fell by 64.4 percent in the year to August – from $41.7million to $14.9m compared to the previous year.
Since Covid hit, visitor numbers at the Department of Conservation (DOC) Franz Josef Visitor Center had dropped by 81 percent.
DOC Western South Island operations director Mark Davies said the West Coast had received $11M of Jobs for Nature funding, which helped cover 181 full-time jobs.
Development West Coast opened a $5M fund to give up to $75,000 of cash flow support to eligible businesses, while the Government had earmarked Westland as one of five districts eligible for its $200m business advisory and mental health support fund.