Canterbury businesses see immigration restrictions as biggest challenge for 2022


The ongoing restrictions on immigration into New Zealand will be one of the biggest challenges for the Canterbury region this year, says the head of the local chamber of commerce.

Regent Street, Christchurch, mid-summer, 2020.

Christchurch and Canterbury’s domestic tourism suffered under the long lockdown Aucklanders went through in 2021, says the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce. (File image) Photo: 123rf

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leann Watson said even before the Covid-19 restrictions on immigration were introduced, Canterbury was already short of workers.

“We really do rely on immigration here in the Canterbury region,” Watson said.

“We were short of people before Covid, and with the borders closed we are significantly short. We’ve got such a tight labour market. We’ve got businesses screaming out to get more people.

“As we continue to grow our economy, which is really positive, we must make sure we have the people to fill those jobs.”

The shortage of people had led to the poaching of staff from others and delays in some construction work, she said.

The local tourism sector would also be hoping the government would reduce the requirement for 10 days in MIQ for international visitors to get the tourism sector back to life, she said.

In addition, domestic tourists were also very important to the region, but the long Auckland lockdown had also had a big impact.

Usually half of all domestic visitors to Canterbury come from Auckland.

“This year we’ve obviously had significant challenges with Auckland being in lockdown for well over 100 days,” Watson said.

“That has been horrific for those living in Auckland, and we’ve also felt the impact of that in Christchurch and Canterbury as we do rely heavily on domestic travel in this region.”

However, there had been some real positives in 2021 for the Canterbury region, Watson said.

Retail spending had bounced back strongly, there had been great support for local business, and strong performance in key export industries including dairy, meat and manufacturing.

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