10 June 2009

New Zealand work permit grants still troubling Queenstown

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New Zealand work permit grants are becoming an embedded problem for New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown.

Being a town built upon hospitality and tourism, Queenstown relies upon New Zealand work permit holders and New Zealand working holiday makers to fill the positions on a seasonal basis.  However, because of delays in processing New Zealand work permit renewals, many operators have been caught short of workers this season.

The New Zealand immigration department is enforcing stricter rules on granting New Zealand work permits so that they can be sure Kiwis are getting the opportunity for employment before overseas workers during the recession.

The trouble is, delays in processing the New Zealand visa applications has caused overseas workers to have to return home because they were no longer allowed to be in the country. 

At the Trenz trade show in Auckland yesterday Tourism Industry Association (TIA) chief executive Tim Cossar said that places such as Queenstown should not have to suffer the same stringent labour-market tests as the rest of New Zealand because it is doing more damage to the economy.

"We are saying to people who already have (overseas) employees to start the process earlier ... but we also agreeing (with the Government) on timeframes when these decisions need to be made," Mr Cossar was reported by The Southland Times as saying.

The TIA are calling for the New Zealand immigration department to make a decision within the next two months so that they can try to saviour the closing months of the winter season.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman put the onus on the tourism industry to keep the New Zealand economy's head above water during the financial slowdown.


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