Development West Coast Chief Executive Heath Milne welcomes the Government’s $12.1 billion relief package for the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The COVID-19 travel restrictions to Aotearoa New Zealand are already hurting tourist operators on the Coast, with more and more cancellations coming through. This is all on the back of recent major events like the Waiho Bridge washout, Omoto slip and the closure of SH6 in December,” Mr Milne says.

Tourism is one of the West Coast’s main economic drivers, contributing around 15% of the region's Gross Domestic Product and employing 3,657 West Coasters – around 23% of our workforce.

“Tourism operators have been some of the first to be impacted by COVID-19, but it is also important to remember they are not the only businesses to be affected,” Mr Milne says.

“The Government has acted decisively with the $12.1b COVID-19 relief package. It’s great to see an initial support package that will quickly get funds where they are needed to protect jobs. The 12 week’s support will provide businesses with some much-needed breathing space.”

The $5.1b wage subsidy scheme will pay employers up to $150,000 per business over the next 12 weeks to keep employees on, if they can demonstrate a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June when compared to 2019.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of Social Development and local businesses who have been affected by extreme events in 2019, like the Waiho Bridge washout. We need to ensure they are not adversely affected by any of the current criteria. We hope to have further clarification around this soon.

“The outbreak is having a significant impact on our local economy – we are in for a long hard road. Once the immediate public health issues are over, we need to be prepared for the recovery. DWC and West Coast businesses will start to plan for this as soon as the immediate threat passes.

“We recommend any business looking for advice on what support is available to contact DWC. We are here to help you during this challenging time. We are also here to advocate for West Coast businesses.

“To ensure we are well-informed on how the COVID-19 situation is impacting West Coast businesses we are also conducting a short survey. The survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete and will enable us to provide an evidence-based view to Government so that appropriate responses can be organised and delivered.

Complete the survey online at:

Contact DWC on 0800 768 0140 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

COVID-19 resources for West Coast businesses

Media Release: 18 March 2020