A collaboration between Rotorua Lakes Council and the Rotorua Trails Trust has provided a brief respite for a group of local tourism workers facing Covid-19 uncertainty.
The group has been redeployed from their current jobs for a few weeks to carry out maintenance for Rotorua Trails Trust.
The trust works on behalf of the Rotorua Lakes Council, developing and maintaining walking, riding and horse trekking trails throughout the Rotorua region.
Positive attitudes and a love of the outdoors means this opportunity is a perfect fit for the group of guides who are all looking forward to getting back into some physical work and giving back to an industry they all love.
Each person in the group has found themselves in the same situation – making the most of the forced downtime but managing nerves about the future of tourism.
River Rats Operations manager Anthony Churches says it was a positive experience to be in lockdown, spending time with family and completing DIY projects, but thought a lot about the future of tourism as a whole.
“We got the wage subsidy, which has been great, but there are other things that need topping up.
"Being in a management role, I can see a lot of money going out that hasn’t been coming in. I’ve been trying to put my hand up for any extra work so whatever money we have saved can be used for when we can start rafting again.
"I don’t know how long that’s going to last, but this [work with the Trails Trust] is a helping hand. I also live close to the forest and I ride and take my kids for walks, so it’s cool to be able to give back here,” says Anthony.
The opportunity to work with the Trails Trust isn’t just about employment for Mountain Bike Rotorua guide Wade Garmson either, he also sees it as a great way to give back.
“This has been a pretty cool opportunity. I’ve been riding in the forest for a few years since they first allowed mountain biking in the forest, so it’s a great way of just giving back and staying outdoors.”
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Operations Group manager Jocelyn Mikaere says these types of opportunities are what the council will be looking for to deliver the Build Back Better economic recovery strategy.
“We are going to need partnerships with local businesses, organisations and other groups to deliver this strategy.
"We are going to need to be innovative and look for opportunities to build on the work that council is already doing and see where we can extend that further into our community," says Jocelyn.
The work with the Trails Trust will last about six weeks and the team will be carrying out work on more than 200km of trails.
They will be trimming vegetation and clearing tracks, maintaining and enhancing drainage in boggy areas and repairing stairs.
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