Tuesday, 5th May, 2020

Media release from Southern Lakes Business Recovery Group  

Joining forces to help businesses navigate economic storm in the wake of COVID-19

Queenstown Lakes District, New Zealand (May 5, 2020) Local business leaders, working with local government and social agencies wasted no time in identifying the significance of the economic disruption in the Southern Lakes region.

Formed (March 15) in quick response to the economic challenges facing the Queenstown Lakes District business sector, the Southern Lakes Business Recovery Group (BRG) has been working to ensure local businesses have easy access to essential information and support services.

The Economic Development team at Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), Destination Queenstown (DQ), Lake Wanaka Tourism (LWT), Ignite Wanaka and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce are working closely together under the collective banner of BRG , meeting initially on a daily basis to ensure coordination of recovery and response efforts for businesses in the district

The priority has been the gathering and sharing of information, listening to immediate business needs, and providing access to the support and resources that businesses have required to get them through the initial response phase and subsequent challenges of the Alert Level systems in place.

“At a time when businesses have been under enormous stress, the BRG has played an integral role, disseminating a huge amount of information and getting it out in a concise and timely fashion” says BRG Response Manager Peter Harris, who is also QLDC’s Economic Development Manager during ‘BAU’.

The BRG has sent consistent communications to businesses in the Queenstown Lakes District. From Makarora to Glenorchy these communications have assisted in the important task of providing the most up to date information, essential vital health messaging, wage subsidy, business mentoring opportunities. As well as expert guidance on topics such as business continuity, employment law, leasing and contract issues as well as mental health and wellbeing support and access to online training.

These training sessions are providing vital opportunities for the business community to connect and navigate their way through this together. Webinars held by the Chamber of Commerce, DQ, Ignite Wanaka and the Otago Regional Business Network have been heavily subscribed, with a combined reach in the  tens of thousands.

While we have focused on getting through this together it is now important that we look at the future, what this might look like for the region and how we can help our business community transition.

It will take a co-ordinated community approach to reimagine and rebuild our economy and as a group we are already starting these conversations with businesses, other groups and individuals keen to help. The Mayoral Taskforce is currently in the early stages of development and members of the BRG will be offering our assistance to this process, along with the expertise of the wider business community.

LWT and DQ are also working with national partners TNZ, TIA and RTNZ on scenario planning and forecasting to help the tourism industry plan for a reimagined tourism industry and will be asking local businesses for their thoughts in the coming weeks. The Chambers of Commerce and Council’s ED team continue to look at labour force challenges and opportunities including redeployment solutions, shovel ready projects to kickstart the economy and how we retain our key individuals to ensure a thriving community - socially and economically. 

The Queenstown Lakes District is renowned for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit and we know there are many who’d like to be involved in reimagining our future and we encourage any groups that are out there thinking in this space  to get in touch with Peter Harris who is collating thoughts and ideas at this early stage.

Mr Harris was excited to have seen many ideas raised throughout the community. “After we collate the ideas received by QLDC we will create some criteria to evaluate them and be in touch with those who have contributed.  We are also keen to explore how we can help support ideas suggested via other organisations.”


For more information, contact any of the group listed below:

Destination Queenstown – Ann Lockhart – CEO – annl@queenstownNZ.nz 

Queenstown Chamber – Anna Mickell – CEO – ceo@queenstownchamber.org.nz 

Lake Wanaka Tourism – James Helmore – GM – james@wanaka.co.nz 

Ignite Wanaka Chamber – Naomi Lindsay – Executive Officer – naomi@ignitewanaka.co.nz 

QLDC Economic Development – Peter Harris – Economic Development Manager peter.harris@qldc.govt.nz