Support for COVID impacted Westland Businesses

25 January 2022
Development West Coast
75 Westland businesses have accessed over $430,000 in support through MBIE’s Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan (SRR) via Development West Coast (DWC).

The SRR programme offers targeted support for COVID-19 impacted businesses in Westland, Fiordland/Southland, Queenstown Lakes, Mackenzie, and Kaikoura Districts.

DWC Capability and Growth Manager Fiona Hill said under the programme COVID-19 impacted businesses in Westland may be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 (excl. GST) for Business Advisory Support - professional one-to-one support and tailored advice to help the business adjust to the impact of the pandemic.

This advice falls in to three broad categories:

  • Continue – Advice to help the business to continue on with its operations, be it a confirmation or adjustment to current business practice to operate, until the return of international visitors at commercially significant levels.
  • Hibernate – Advice to help the business to scale down or close parts of their business, and what future conditions might precipitate an increase in business operations.
  • Cease – Advice to help businesses to cease trading and/or advice on how to cease trade in a way that will minimise costs.

This is in addition to any previous advice that a business may have received through the Regional Business Partner Network.

“A further grant of up to $5,000 (excl GST) is available to help implement advice received through the Business Advisory Support initiative or a satisfactory alternative provider. This grant is only available to implement advice that DWC as a Lead Entity has approved,” Fiona said.

To date, $266,484 worth of professional advice has been allocated to Westland businesses through the SRR programme, and an additional $166,032 for implementing the advice.

Julie Wolbers and Jonathan Crofton’s business near Franz Josef, Ribbonwood Retreat, is one of the many Westland businesses to utilise SRR funding via DWC.

“The COVID lockdown offered us a time to reflect as well as an opportunity to review our business practices,," Julie said.

“The opportunity to take up support from DWC has helped give us confidence to continue developing and growing our business despite losing our guests and not knowing how we were going to keep up our momentum."

Julie Wolbers, Ribbonwood Retreat

“We went down the track of getting the support of DWC training in order to develop new strategies and skills moving forward. We undertook a Qualmark assessment, web development, business mentoring and marketing initiatives. In particular, we have valued our work with Marijke Dunselman – Strategies Marketing Consultancy.

“We have been able to use this time to grow and develop our understanding of our business. We have greatly valued MBIE and DWC who have supported us by protecting our assets so we can resume business when the borders open,” she said.

Local service providers have also benefited from the SRR programme, with 17 West Coast businesses signed up with the Regional Business Partner Network (RBP) to offer services through the SRR fund.

Jody Direen's Franz Josef based digital marketing business is one of the local businesses offering services through the RBP network.

"The SRR fund is valuable to West Coast businesses and those that take advantage of it will reap the rewards," Jody says.

"It’s important to have a strong brand presence online and my clients have utilised this fund to stay ahead of the game, positioning themselves to pick up as much business as possible now and as we enter the recovery phase from the closure of our borders and begin to re-open.

Jody Direen, Digital Marketing

"With each business that leverages off of these services to make improvements the more momentum the West Coast will collectively gain, turning more eyes of New Zealanders and beyond, to the region. It’s an exciting opportunity," Jody says.

Fiona Hill says the SRR funding is available for all eligible tourism businesses in the Westland District, not just South Westland.

To be eligible businesses must be a tourism business, which is defined as a business where at least 50 percent of the businesses operational output is purchased by tourists. This can also include service businesses whose output is purchased by tourism businesses.

For more information contact DWC:


Julie Wolbers and Jonathan Crofton from Ribbonwood Retreat

Ribbonwood Retreat

"Ribbonwood Retreat is an accommodation provider set near Franz Josef with a strong environmental ethos. We have a strong environmental ethos at our Bed and Breakfast. Our main focus has been planting five hundred trees on the property, including transplanting seedlings that have been bought in by birds.

"After purchasing two bare paddocks in 2001, the result has been a return of birdsong with resident tui, bellbirds and kereru all spring and early summer long. We enjoy views of glaciers, sheer mountain peaks, forests and farmland.

"We cater for just two parties of guests at a time as we enjoy providing personalised service."

Jody Direen.JPG

Jody Direen, Digital Marketing

"My services centre around digital strategy - focusing on the big picture, I work with my clients to identify gaps of opportunity and patch these up through training and advice. Online branding, Customer Profiling (i.e. defining target audience), Social Media Strategy, Online Advertising (Facebook/Instagram and Google Ads), email marketing, website & SEO as well as measuring performance are key facets of my offerings.

"The training and advice gives small and medium business owners the confidence and skills to take charge of their digital marketing, ongoing without having to outsource an agency. Some will delegate this role to an employee. As my clients implement the training, I’m seeing them build engaged audiences, effectively telling their unique story - making waves online, reaching new relevant customers, driving more leads & generating sales."