Uncertainty around public events

Nigel Tutt
Chief Executive of Priority One

 The recent Covid-related shock to this area has fortunately passed without damage for most of the economy.

We have seen that many local companies can work in some capacity under levels 4 and 3 and pleasingly, we have only seen slight impact in the employment market – jobs that will be absorbed fairly quickly in an otherwise positive economy.

While the majority of businesses will get back to trading normally; we remain concerned about retail, hospitality and events businesses. They bear the brunt of the restrictions and consequently, find it very difficult to plan ahead.

The summer bump we get from events is important to the region, particularly in a year where trading has been disrupted.

Retail spend over summer months is typically around $50-70m higher than other seasons – attributable to visitors and our summer schedule of events that simulates spend.

For an events business, now is the time they need to be booking and paying for items that they’ll use at event time, and they will be banking on forward bookings to help fund some of this.

Any uncertainty will lower the amount of risk they’re willing or able to take.

They might see this in lower bookings through uncertainty, or just be nervous that they might have an event cancelled – like we’ve just seen with AIMS Games and the Tauranga Arts Festival.

If they sensibly choose not to run an event, it not only affects their business but also others that get the spill over benefits; think accommodation, hospitality and retail.

Clarity around vaccination policies and their effect on alert levels will help these businesses a lot. 

We have seen businesses be very resourceful over some difficult times recently, but they need to have a clear steer on what is ahead.

For events, businesses will need clarity on alert levels once we reach vaccination targets, whether any proof of vaccination will be required and how that might be enforced.

The rest of the business community need similar clarity.

From what I have seen, businesses are keen to maximise vaccination rates in their staff – because they feel they need to do their bit to help a fragile health system, because they want to get back to a more stable environment, or because they see safety and business continuity risks if they don’t.

How far they can go with this is still uncertain, even if needing to be vaccinated is business critical.

Like it or not, it’s clear that being vaccinated will be a major determinan of our future freedoms and economic fortunes – the sooner we can get to our 90 per cent threshold the better.



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