Tourism operators facing a wave of cancellations resulting from the bursting of the trans-Tasman bubble should receive a wage subsidy, the mayor of the Queenstown Lakes district said.
Since the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble in April, tourism operators, especially those in New Zealand’s alpine regions, have been eagerly awaiting a flood of Australian tourists enjoying their school holidays in late June, coinciding with the start of the ski season.
But on Saturday night, their hopes were dashed when, amid a worsening of the Covid-19 epidemic in Australia, the New Zealand government announced that all non-quarantine travel from Australia had been suspended until ‘at midnight Tuesday.
NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said that during the Australian and New Zealand school holidays he expected to receive between 4,000 and 6,000 visitors per day to his Queenstown ski areas, but he was now planning to have about half of that number.
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NZSki operates The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt ski areas.
When the non-quarantine trip from New South Wales to New Zealand was suspended last week, it received a high level of cancellations.
âWe are seeing the same thing this week. We are disgusted, but we understand what has to happen, âhe said.
Before the break, bookings had been strong for the coming week, and it was almost full for snow sports lessons, he said.
He was prepared for breaks during the season, but it came at an unfortunate time, not only for NZSki, but for the entire community who were counting on a school vacation boost after a difficult year, did -he declares.
âIt’s a real blow to have one in what was going to be our busiest time of the season.
The more breaks there were throughout the season, the harder it would be for the company without any government help, he said.
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said the absence of Australian visitors would impact operators across the region, not just accommodation providers and ski areas.
He said he hoped the government would support operators with a wage subsidy, as was recently offered to Wellington businesses affected by the region being on Alert Level 2.
A text from a hotelier texted Boult on Monday morning, saying that before the break he was full by Thursday.
âAs of this morning, he’s 35% booked and is giving up,â Boult said.
This represented a drop in daily income of about $ 120,000, he said.
âI’m pretty sure it’s a common image to all accommodation establishments.
Since the bubble was announced in April, the region has been lagging since this time of year, he said.
He was hopeful, but not optimistic, that the freeze would lift after three days.
“I would be very happy if it only lasted three days, but given what is going on in Australia right now, you would be making a brave bet if you thought it was going to end in the short term.”
He said he had no argument against implementing the travel break.
“The situation in Australia looks pretty serious so the New Zealand government is doing the right thing.”
Queenstown had been well supported by domestic tourists, and he encouraged them to take advantage of the absence of Australian tourists.
“They’re definitely not going to push for a track spot.”
He encouraged Australians who couldn’t make it to delay their trip until later in the season, rather than cancel altogether.
A spokeswoman for Tourism Minister Stuart Nash did not say whether there would be support for tourism businesses that have lost income due to the travel hiatus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said RNZ As of Monday morning, no government support was given to companies affected by the change in status of the travel bubble with Australia.
âThere is nothing related to the changes in the trans-Tasman arrangement,â she said.
“Unfortunately, this is not something that is not specifically covered by any of our support agreements.”
Aotearoa tourism industry chief executive Chris Roberts said the first real influx of international vacationers in 18 months is expected to start this weekend and continue over the next two weeks.
“This was the fortnight the Alpine regions were really looking forward to, and instead they were all busy canceling everyone’s reservations.”
He said it seemed unlikely that circumstances had improved enough for the ban to be lifted after three days.
“It is sheer bad luck that this happened at about the worst possible time.”
This time of year was the only opportunity to capture Australian tourists who were planning to take advantage of the school holidays and the opening of the ski season, he said.
âOnce that window has passed, they won’t come back at a later date.
“This is their only chance to come here for a winter vacation.”
The economic boost that was expected, especially for the South Island, was now lost, he said.
Typically, across the industry, full cancellations were available for Covid-related disruptions, and customers were reimbursed, he said.
âAll the money that was received in terms of prepayment is now coming back the other way. “