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Scenic Hotel Group Announces Closure Of Four West Coast Properties Including Premium Eco Luxe Property

Christchurch, New Zealand. 10 March 2021. New Zealand's largest independently owned hotel group, Scenic Hotel Group, has made the tough but strategic decision to place its four West Coast properties into extended hibernation.

Consideration and consultation are currently underway with staff and General Managers of affected properties with the Group undertaking its best endeavours to redeploy staff where they can. In addition to this, Scenic Hotel Group will retain an essential crew of staff to maintain the properties during this period. Scenic Hotel Group Managing Director, Brendan Taylor saying, "Despite strenuous investment by ourselves in the region and a reimagined price point and proposition for flagship property, Te Waonui Forest Retreat, the volume and appetite are simply not there from the Kiwi market." Taylor believes that over the past year, the Group has exhausted all avenues to stimulate domestic tourism to the region in an effort to make up for the loss of international tourism and ongoing uncertainty around an Australian travel bubble.

In the wake of what he describes as a "Decimated tourism market," there is now a significant oversupply of accommodation and tourism product in the region. "Whilst unpalatable and at an estimated cost to the Group of around NZ$2m a year, we have made a decision that will hopefully be for the betterment of the region. This will allow smaller operators who do not have the strength of a National Group to take up what tourism dollars are left." Taylor also expresses a commitment to the Group continuing to promote the region where they can through redirecting online searches directly to other operators.

Taylor estimates it will be around 12-18 months before the Group would open up operations again in the region. This will be largely dependent on the ability to welcome back the high yielding North American and European markets together with mainstay tourism from Australia. "It is however unlikely that enabling just a single market will facilitate the type of market regeneration needed for this region. What the region needs is certainty of when, where and how international tourism will return to the West Coast.”

While the West Coast presents a diverse array of unique, nature-based experiences, the attraction is limited at a time when many Kiwis are seeking out a beach holiday, with Australian interests also chasing the sun and sand. Pristine wilderness areas and the majesty of the Glacier Country do, however, hold great allure for international travellers from afar and especially North America. Together with the long-haul backpacker seeking to tick off some serious bucket list items, this traveller has been the mainstay of tourism in the region.

Despite the closures, locals can still enjoy the Bar area of the Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier, which Taylor describes as a "Focal meeting and socialising point for the community."

Scenic Hotel Group will be "seeing out" the current season and will start to lock its operations down at the traditional end of season in May.

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