Coronavirus: Covid level change "kick in the guts" for struggling tourism operators
Auckland’s move to alert level 3 has come as a “kick in the guts” to New Zealand's embattled tourism industry.
Accommodation and activity providers reported a flurry of cancellations as the country’s largest city moved into lock down on Wednesday due to community transmission of Covid-19.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said tourism businesses were just starting to pick themselves up after the alert level 4 lock down earlier in the year and border closures to international visitors.
“It’s a remarkably resilient industry and in some ways surprising how few businesses have collapsed so far but the blows keep coming, and they’re going to have an impact,” he said.
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Queenstown Chamber of Commerce acting general manager Craig Douglas said businesses in the tourism town began taking cancellation phone calls first thing on Wednesday morning.
Among them was Queenstown Luxury Property Management owner Bridget Murphy who said her company had eight cancellations by lunchtime and several people had decided to leave Queenstown early.
The company took a “massive” hit when New Zealand went into lockdown in March, she said.
“We lost $100,000 in revenue in three days and during lockdown we made no money.”
Since then more New Zealanders had been travelling than expected and the business was getting back on its feet.
“This has just taken all of the confidence out of the travellers’ market.
“It doesn’t just affect Auckland it affects the whole country.”
THL chief operating officer Jo Allison said phones were busy all day with people cancelling or deferring travelling plans.
“Mostly it’s been customers who want to pick up [camper vans] from our Auckland branch or drop off.”
Waitomo Caves was on a scheduled closed day but expected to be operating with level 2 restrictions on Thursday.
“Some customers planning to come from Auckland can’t make it,” she said.
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said the change in alert level was the worst news the district’s tourism industry could get.
“It is the right decision by government but it’s a kick in the guts for us,” he said.
Many tourism business in the resort, which is heavily reliant on international visitors, were saying they could just survive with a domestic market, he said.
“If this goes on any longer than three days it is really going to hurt the town.”
Roberts said the timing of the lockdown with the wage subsidy ending would be challenging for many businesses.
“If this extends beyond this initial three-day period we would be expecting the government to dip into its $14 billion pandemic fund.”
He hoped people would continue to travel. “We need people to still be travelling around and seeing New Zealand.
“You can still jump in a car and go somewhere,” he said.
Source : Stuff.co.nz