Will minimum wage increases affect tourism when the bubble opens?

By Te Ao - Māori News

Thousands of minimum wage workers across the country will receive their first pay packet today at the increased rate of $20 an hour.

The change is part of a broader package, which also sees the amount people can earn before their benefit reduces, going up to $160 a week.

Business lobby groups have said the change is poorly timed and may push some businesses to the wall, while poverty advocates say the moves don't go nearly far enough. 

Adventure tourism operator Takurua Mutu understands the economic pain of the past year more than most. But now, with the government's announcement of the much anticipated two-way travel bubble with Australia from April 19, the MDA Experiences co-owner is excited to welcome international visitors back to Aotearoa to pump more money back into tourism. 

"I honestly wasn't expecting it to be back so soon. If they've got their mechanisms in place to deal with any [Covid-19] outbreaks, then I'm very excited," he says.

The Employers Manufacturers Association says that, with the minimum wage rising combined with adding another public holiday in Matariki - the Māori New Year, it could push businesses to the brink. However, Takurua,  an advocate for  Matariki as a public holiday, doesn't think so.

"Honestly, I don't think it'll push businesses to the brink. It's something that needs to happen. I supposed I'm a bit biased because pushing minimum wage lines up with me and my brother's own business values.

"Let's be honest, these businesses need this push to start moving people's wages up, start moving adults up, start moving permanent staff up. Everyone should be striving to get closer to the living wage."