Backyard operators flouting the law, say backpackers

Monday 27 December 2004

Up to 15 illegal accommodation operators in Blenheim are stealing business from backpacker hostels, says a newly formed group.

By The Landlord

The 10 owners behind the Blenheim Backpackers Collective say they are losing business and money to people with backyard setups who flout the law with houses crowded with vineyard workers.

The group believes there are up to 15 of the illegal hostels, housing up to 150 workers in unsanitary conditions and undercutting legal businesses, according to The Grapevine Backpackers owner Rob Lawrence.

While backpacker hostels spent up to $200,000 to get resource and building consents, they lost business to those who bypassed the official channels and charged as little as $70 a week, he said.

In some instances a vineyard contractor would recruit workers from a backpackers, then move them on to one of the cheaper, illegal operations, he said.

Euny Kim of Arrow Backpackers spent nearly $200,000 getting her property up to standard to receive the resource consent and building consent needed to convert it to a backpackers.

"But my backpackers is very simple," she said, adding that the expense was far higher than she or her husband anticipated.

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