New Zealand’s capital city has started planning new events to help its economy recover after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Wellington Mayor Any Foster announced that he wanted to start of with local activities to ensure their safety before progressing in size. The move is designed to get people to spend money in their local economy, and draw customers towards cafés, bars and restaurants.
"What we're looking at is some smaller scale, local activities in the first instance, particularly ones that can be accommodated in existing hospitality venues,” explained Foster.
“It gives a reason for people to come to those venues while keeping events below 100 people. Obviously we won’t be able to run larger events until we get to the appropriate level.”
While some of Wellington's top-drawer events - like World of Wearable Art, Cuba Dupa, and the International Film Festival - have been cancelled, others like the Jazz Festival have been postponed.
"Normally that will be an event that would involve international performers and larger audiences and it's usually held in the middle of the year, so clearly that's not going to happen this year," said Foster.
"However, what we can look to do is something that's domestically based in smaller venues, and that's the kind of thing that's being looked at towards the latter part of the year.”
Details of which events would be put on or when they would be staged were still unclear, but the plan had the approval of Roger Young, owner of long running cafe, Fidel's.
"We would be so supportive of that - we were really gutted when Cuba Dupa was cancelled," said Young.
The hospitality sector is a huge part of Wellington's economy.
"We rely so much on our hospitality, and our hotels and our accommodation, given we're a government town. But we're also a town that uses its food scene to sell ourselves to the rest of the country,” noted director of Corporate Affairs at Wellington Urban Consulting, Chamanthie Sinhalage-Fonseka.
Wellington city council has created an economic recovery fund of $8 million to assist businesses, specifically looking at stimulating innovation and technology.
"They have to show they are creating new ways of doing things," explained Councillor Tamatha Paul, whose amendment directed the fund towards innovation.
"For hospitality, they're looking at contactless deliveries. An innovative solution to that is helping them develop their online platforms.”
How the fund will be directed, and applied for, is also still to be finalised.