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Unemployment in Queenstown has skyrocketed 267 per cent during lockdown highlighting why we need urgent, targeted support for tourism, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.

“Between March 20 and April 20, the number of people who applied for the unemployment benefit in Queenstown increased from 151 to 554.

“This is just the people who have applied for the unemployment benefit and doesn’t include those who aren’t eligible because they’re in relationships or are migrants.”

“Almost 11,000 people have registered with the local Queenstown Lakes District Council for emergency support, with 76 per cent migrants.

“These figures are a stark reflection of the impact that the last seven weeks in lockdown has had on Queenstown businesses.

“With our local economy heavily reliant on tourism, we need urgent, targeted relief for the hundreds of businesses that are shouldering the heavy burden of the lockdown.

“A move to level two which will allow inter-regional travel will be welcome relief for many but with international tourism unlikely to be back for a long while yet, we’ve got a tough time ahead.

“Tourism employers in particular are paying a disproportionate price for this lockdown.

“We need to see an industry specific support package and plan in place, to support our tourism sector as they try to get back on their feet.”

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