New Zealand tourism operators are “excited” and “relieved” that they can get back to business from Thursday when domestic travel restrictions are lifted pumping some much needed activity into the moribund market.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa said that yesterday’s announcement by prime minister Jacinda Ardern that travel within New Zealand can start again on Thursday “is a huge relief that won’t come a day too soon for hundreds of businesses.”
TIA said that tourism operators who had to close their doors more than six weeks ago for the lockdown were excited that they could start hosting Kiwis again.
“The next few months will be an amazing opportunity for Kiwis to experience the best New Zealand has to offer – and have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to save the livelihoods of other Kiwis,” chief executive Chris Roberts said.
However, TIA warned that the delay the opening of bars for a week and to limit gatherings to 10 people for at least the next two weeks will have an adverse economic impact.
“While the health of New Zealanders must remain the priority, we’ve heard [yesterday] of hundreds more jobs going from SkyCity and other tourism employers,” Roberts said.
“Many tourism, hospitality and event businesses are teetering on the edge. In the current circumstances, even a week or two’s delay will push some over the cliff, and result in further job losses and business closures.”
He added that TIA was pleased Ardern had promised direct support in the Budget to the businesses most affected by the pandemic but that it “may come too late for some.”
Regional tourism organisations in the tourism hotspots of Queenstown and Rotorua also welcomed the announcement, using it as a trigger to double down on efforts to stimulate local, regional and domestic demand.
Destination Queenstown’s interim chief executive, Ann Lockhart, said the “hugely important” announcement was met with delight in the resort town and said it provided “a pathway to recovery for tourism operators moving into the vital winter season”.
“The announcement today will provide some relief for businesses in Queenstown following many weeks of uncertainty,” she said.
“While this isn’t a total panacea it is a good step in the right direction. DQ will be working with businesses this week to understand their plans and identify any support they may need access to.”
DQ added that the return of commercial air services to Queenstown would also go a long way toward getting the Queenstown community back on its feet.
“We are certain that our world-leading tourism operators are well equipped to meet requirements to deliver great experiences, in a safe environment. We are excited our ski fields are able to operate, our hospitality sector will be looking forward to serving visitors again soon, and many of our activities will be able to make the guidelines work,” Lockhart said.
DQ now plans to follow up its local campaign, #WeAreQueenstown, by launching a new winter marketing campaign, targeting the domestic market, on 1 June. It is also underway with research to get a wider understanding of the domestic market to inform both its own activities and its members.
Operators in another of NZ’s leading tourism destination, Rotorua, were also ready to extend “New Zealanders an invitation to explore their wondrous city”, said Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer.
“Rotorua has always been a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders and we know that many are already planning their next holiday here,” she said.
“In fact, 59% of all visitor spend in Rotorua last year came from domestic visitors and our industry is working hard to make it even more attractive for Kiwis to visit.”
The RTO was running a number of marketing campaigns at the moment, including launching the second phase of its In our Element marketing campaign, encouraging residents to explore their wonderful backyard and to support local businesses.
“We need more than ever to support each other as much as we can,” Templer said.
“The first phase of our locals’ campaign focused on businesses that were open in Level 3, which were largely retail and food & beverage. As we move into level 2, these businesses still need our support but there’s also the opportunity to explore our wider backyard and visit the incredible attractions and activities on our doorstep.”
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