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Tourism and food security in Queenstown.

Apse, M., Degarege, G., Fountain, J., Espiner, S., & Stewart, E. (2022) Tourism and food security in Queenstown. LEAP report #62. https://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/handle/10182/15550


This report outlines the food (in)security situation in Queenstown, New Zealand in the context of its COVID-affected tourism downturn. It is illustrative of the global pandemic’s disruption to the tourism-dependent town and the ways in which this impacted food security within the community. The project used interview data from 13 interviewees each active in the Queenstown community in food welfare, social support, or local government. Supplementary data was gathered via a desk-based document and media search. Community-based food welfare providers reported high demand for food parcels largely due to COVID-19-related income reductions and job losses. Food welfare demand was strong from the commencement of the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, and remained relatively consistent in subsequent months as national borders remained closed to international visitors. Interviewees reported high numbers of migrants accessing food welfare as the result of tourism job losses, reduced shifts, and loss of access to meals they had received in hospitality roles previously. Many of these migrants were ineligible for government support. COVID-19 food security issues have been exacerbated by high demand for housing and high density living, which has reduced the amount of land available for home vegetable planting. This is limiting own food production and access to affordable high-nutrition foods. Reliance on the food welfare sector as a long term strategy is not sustainable if food security is the goal, however the array of community groups that offer food welfare may be able to proactively bolster food security, concurrent with their food welfare operations, and so enable food welfare recipients to transition to less vulnerability and greater food security in the future. Our findings caution against sectoral ‘self-sufficiency’ because high degrees of independence within sectors can translate to vulnerability in the face of disruption. Inter-sectoral integration – particularly within the agriculture, food and tourism sectors – is one avenue by which each sector could become more resilient. Further research in this area could identify pathways for building resilience.

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