New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has thrust small businesses in Southeast Queensland and northern NSW into the spotlight by shopping small on her family holiday Down Under.
The Kiwi PM, who has been travelling through Kingscliff, NSW and the Tamborine Mountain area in Queensland over the last week, has been making a point to visit local shops and restaurants in areas affected by bushfires, taking photos with business owners and posting them as Instagram Stories.
Tamborine Mountain business Mason Wines was lucky enough to be visited over the weekend, snapping a shot with Ardern that was sent out to the politician’s 751,000 Instagram followers.
Restaurant manager Bec tells SmartCompany she couldn’t believe who she was serving at first.
Sign up for SmartCompany newsletter.
Free to your inbox every weekday
“I got teased a fair bit until someone actually asked,” she says.
But the exposure is welcome for the business, which has been hit by a slow summer due to international tourism warnings in the wake of the bushfires.
“The mountain has lost a lot of business due to the bushfires. We weren’t affected directly, but people seemed to think there were fires here,” Bec says.
Thankfully, business has started to pick up over the last week, and the winery is hopeful bookings will return to normal soon.
Steven Snow’s award-winning Fins Restaurant in Kingscliff also hosted the Arderns late last week, as the family made its way along Australia’s north-eastern coast.
“Politicians with environmental awareness are as rare as kiwis,” Snow said in a Facebook post about the visit.
“An honour to cook for Jacinda Ardern and Clarke last night.”
Economists have been running the ruler over the estimated economic impact of the ongoing bushfire crisis, with Westpac experts modelling a $5 billion bill for direct losses.
Anecdotal reports from business owners in East Gippsland and Southeast Queensland suggest tourism spending has plummeted, which combined with an expected fall in consumer confidence, could cost the economy between 0.2-0.5% of GDP growth for the first quarter of 2020, Westpac economists said.
Social campaigns and small business advocates, including small business ombudsman Kate Carnell, are urging Australians to holiday locally in 2020 to support communities affected by the bushfires.
“Opt for a domestic holiday this year, not an international one,” Carnell said on Monday.