Creation of business group gains support

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Lake Te Anau. Photo: File

MORE than 60 people concerned about the future of business in Fiordland attended a meeting to focus on formal action.

Organised by Southland District Deputy Mayor Ebel Kremer, the meeting held in Te Anau on Sunday was to gauge interest in the creation of a Fiordland Business Association. This followed community concern around the lack of visitors spending money in the region post flooding and Covid-19.

He said it was a positive meeting, with several options expressed by attendees.

These included implementing a new marketing approach which would see Te Anau, where many businesses were based, viewed as a destination. He called Te Anau a “forgotten town”, in that many visitors may visit while based in Queenstown, but had not realised what the township had to offer before visiting.

While summer was anticipated not to be good but reasonable, the real impacts would be seen by business owners next winter, he said.

“If they don’t have a reasonable income between now and February, they don’t have any reserves for a potentially lean winter.”

He said the association would be a singular voice expressing community and local business concerns to both local and central government. About seven people came to him after the meeting to say they would be interested in the proposed association.

Southland Chamber of Commerce representatives were also present to provide information on how they would work with the association.

Chamber chief executive Sheree Carey said the meeting went well.

“It was a much bigger turnout than I expected, which shows the level of concern they have for the Fiordland business community.”

She said chamber representatives attended to hear what local business owners needed, and the organisation was happy to support their next chosen steps. What those would be would be up to them; “it has to have buy-in and be community led”.

Next, it would survey the businesses and get data to provide them with direction.

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