VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff
Pushkar Junnare says support from the voucher campaign has helped his business survive the Covid lockdowns.
A restaurant owner in New Plymouth has credited a voucher scheme to encourage local spending to get his business through lockdown and welcomes his return.
Pushkar Junnare, co-owner of Area 41 Italian restaurant in New Plymouth, said without the program his business would have struggled to weather the times it was forced to close.
“During the lockdown, there [the campaign] has been very favorable for us, there have been people who have bought vouchers from Auckland and Wellington for their family members in New Plymouth.
Although closures are now likely a thing of the past, the program is back as businesses struggle to cope with the empty city centers Omicron leaves in its wake.
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The ‘Spend on Small’ campaign was launched in 2020, so people could buy vouchers online and redeem them later, ultimately helping businesses stay afloat during lockdowns.
Companies that have become involved in the campaign include Patuha Rainforest Retreat, Fourth Wall Theater Company, Vin Bar and Arbers Fitzroy Barbers.
The voucher system has been used by businesses across New Zealand.
Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Michelle Brennan said the SOS campaign initially supported small hospitality businesses, but the campaign has now expanded.
“But it’s not just hospo anymore, it’s for everyone affected.”
There are now around 160 companies involved within Taranaki, and Brennan wants to “increase those numbers”.
“Buying vouchers generates cash flow when these businesses can’t be opened,” she said.
The campaign created a contest for those who purchase vouchers, with over $20,000 in prizes.