Nelson's mayor pleads for inter-regional air travel under Level 2 as tourism industry suffers

Nelson's mayor is pleading with the Government to allow inter-regional travel - especially by air - under Covid-19 Level 2, saying that for her city, tourists flying in is "survival".

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Rachel Reese says Nelson depends strongly on air travel for tourism – but “the tap’s been turned off”. Source: Breakfast

Speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, Rachel Reese said the people in the tourist hot-spot of Nelson are struggling because "the tap's just been turned off.

"It's been a tough time for us, and the future's looking tense," she said.

Ms Reese said she had been somewhat blindsided by Air New Zealand announcing 100 job cuts at its Nelson engineering base, moving them to Christchurch.

She said she is now hoping to be more involved in a conversation with Air New Zealand where she could propose "some different alternatives".

"I know it's tough for the aviation sector and I guess one of my messages back to the Government is, 'in your budget, you're going to need to aviation support,'" Ms Reese said.

"What worries me is the loss of these skilled jobs in our region - I don't know how we're going to redeploy these people."

Chief among all her concerns is the fact that most people come to Nelson by air, but unless inter-regional air travel is re-enabled under Level 2, the future for many tourism operators in Nelson is looking bleak.

"We've got to get people back in the air - we've got to get them in the air at reasonable prices," she said.

"Let the airlines keep people safe, let our accommodation providers keep people safe."