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Kelvin Davis defends work he's doing to help tourism sector that's 'on its knees'

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis is defending the work he has put in as the industry is slammed by Covid-19.

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Kelvin Davis said he'd been in contact virtually with those affected, and as travel restrictions ease he'll do more. Source: Breakfast

Mr Davis has been called out as not being visible to those affected, however, he told TVNZ 1's Breakfast today he'd held virtual meetings amid the lockdown and, as travel restrictions ease, he plans to do more.

"They well know that over the course of lockdown I've been holding many meetings, and in fact there were 15 online discussions with around about 5000 people from the tourism industry and I've been answering their questions directly, talking about what we're doing as a government to support tourism businesses, so there has been a lot of communication and, you know, that will continue."

One of those criticising the minister was Rotorua MDA Experiences' Tukurua Mutu, who earlier on Breakfast pleaded to Mr Davis: "Communicate with us".

Mr Mutu said there had been good communication from the Government on the health side, but he's not seeing it from the Tourism Minister.

"I'm not gonna question what Kelvin Davis does in the background, from what I understand he's a really hard worker, but we're not seeing that communication from him and the feeling in the tourism industry is one that doesn't have confidence," he said.

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Rotorua MDA Experiences' Tukurua Mutu says the future is uncertain. Source: Breakfast

"You don't have that clear communication from the very top, you don't feel confident so the only thing I'd ask from him is actually communicate with us, come to the industry, get out with us, get out to us small operators, get out to those big operators, get to all of us and talk to us about what you're doing and what's coming next."

However, Mr Davis said he'd had a meeting with Mr Mutu two weeks ago when he was in Rotorua to make a series of announcements.

"We have been engaging directly with people in the tourism industry and now that travel restrictions have been eased we'll be getting out more but there has been a lot of communication and direct discussion with the industry where I've been explaining exactly what we've done as a Government to support the tourism industry and what the $400 million recovery package is going to do."

Mr Davis said an announcement on where exactly that $400 million will go will be made tomorrow afternoon.

"The $400 million is to help businesses transition and also to protect our strategic assets and tomorrow we'll be making a number of announcements, just getting money out the door and people will be able to see exactly what the fund is being used for," he said.

"We understand if people are hurting."

Mr Davis said work was being done to support the sector, but reiterated earlier warnings that no every business and not every job will be saved.

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Mountain Scene editor Tracey Roxburgh reckons June will be the hardest month as the tourist town slows down amid the pandemic. Source: Breakfast

The news hits at a hard time for Queenstown though, which is expected to have its hardest month this June, according to Mountain Scene editor Tracey Roxburgh.

During the difficult period she too wanted to see the minister fighting for the sector.

In an editorial, Roxburgh accused the Tourism Minister of being "dumbfoundingly quiet", stating that in three years he'd only been to Queenstown three times.

Earlier on Breakfast this morning she asked: "Where are you? Where are you? We need you, Queenstown needs you, the tourism industry needs you. We need you in our corner, we need you fighting for us, we need you gloved up in the middle of the ring ready to go 10 rounds for us.

"I know it's hard, I know it's overwhelming but burying your head in the sand and pretending this isn't happening doesn't solve the problem.

"Right now, the tourism industry at large is on its knees so we really just need our minister there fighting."

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Grant Robertson appeared on TVNZ1’s Q+A on May 18, 2020. Source: Q+A