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by Chris Tobin

Mackenzie district has been knocked down but has come off the floor and is fighting back.

Mackenzie mayor Graham Smith said central government would also have to play its part.

“We put that question to [Finance] Minister [Grant] Robertson,” Mr Smith said.

“Money needs to come in to the regional areas.

“We are a high-growth area and it’s seriously important we’re looked at and considered.

“We’ve had 18 to 20% growth in tourism year on year.”

The Mackenzie District Council has formulated a Covid-19 economic and community recovery action plan which has included launching a “Legendary Mackenzie” website.

The website was a comprehensive guide to everything the district offered from dining to all activities and experiences that were available.

“There’s plenty happening in the Mackenzie and we’ve put quite a bit of money into the website. It’s already had an impact.”

He welcomed the influx of visitors over Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

“Tekapo Springs opened its new programme for the winter but we need to have them keep coming.”

Mr Smith said one outcome of Covid-19 was that it gave tourism in the district the opportunity to pause and reassess.

“It’s given us the chance to reset to what we want.

“It’s very important that our own community is heard and not trampled under by international companies.”

He said the community had been receptive to the recovery plan.

ACTIONS OUTLINED IN THE PLAN

Immediate response

  • Full refund to anyone who wants to cancel a building consent or resource consent application lodged after March 1, 2020
  • Establish a business-led development forum
  • Fast-track (10 working days) resource consent process
  • An urgent revision of tourism marketing
  • Help businesses via SC Chamber of Commerce
  • Launch a Mackenzie open for business website
  • Create local jobs with local projects
  • Rates remission and rates postponement policies
  • Engage with Department of Conservation

Three months, short/medium term

  • Waive late rates payment penalties
  • Development forum to assess and assist business initiatives to get under way
  • Commercial rent relief
  • Examine policies and processes to assist ratepayers experiencing financial hardship

Six months plus

  • Incorporate social development into council operations and capital programme
  • Recruit an economic development manager
  • Establish clear principles to guide the future of Mackenzie tourism