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Backpacker accommodation provider staying open for business

NZ’s largest 100% NZ-owned backpacker accommodation provider staying open for business and supporting the regions

Marie Blome, Mona Pfahler, Beatrice Melissa Brüss

All from Christchurch (originally from Germany but working in Christchurch) They came to Franz Josef on a mini vacation to do the Tasman Glacier Heli-hike and also trekked the Robert’s Point track.

YHA New Zealand is committing to retain its national network of hostels despite suffering significant financial pain following the border closures and Covid-19 lockdown.

The announcement comes as the majority of New Zealand’s hotels are either closed or operating with skeleton staff.

“For nearly 90 years YHA has been engaged within many New Zealand communities” says Chief Executive Mark Wells, “and we believe it is especially critical to the survival of regional New Zealand that core accommodation and transport infrastructure is maintained to facilitate domestic travel.”

Wells confirmed New Zealanders are strong supporters of YHA, with more than 80,000 guest nights being taken up by kiwis last year. However these domestic guests do not fit the traditional backpacker profile and nor low-income travelers.

“Our hostels, which include private ensuite rooms as well as the traditional dormitories, appeal to many in New Zealand’s walking community, mountain bikers and those who prefer to spend less on accommodation and more on experiences.

“That’s what we are about – we would love to see New Zealanders spending their time and money experiencing all the great things to do in their own backyard and enjoying New Zealand at its uncrowded best,” said Wells.

YHA has not been unscathed by the lockdown, which follows the impacts of the South Island floods and road closures in December. However, the wage subsidy has allowed YHA to retain most of its staff and the budget announcement of an extension to the wage subsidy will also assist in their ongoing retention.

Unfortunately, there will be a need to re-size the organization to reflect the reduced scale of activity in a domestic-only market. This is a process that is commencing now and Wells acknowledges this is a painful time for YHA and its people: “Our goal is survival in the best way possible, to maintain our hostel network for our communities and, at the same time ensure we reach our 100-year anniversary in 2032”.

YHA New Zealand is New Zealand’s largest hostel network delivering over 400,000 guest nights per year to a broad base of domestic and international visitors. It has a long and proud history of commitment to the environment and sustainable development being the first accommodation network in the world to be Toitū carbonzerocertTM certified.

Says Wells: “We are absolutely committed to our own sustainability as an organisation to ensure our own long-term future and support for local communities.”


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