Destination Queenstown is pleased the Government has provided the business community with some much-needed certainty around reconnecting New Zealand with the rest of the world, however the wait may be too long to save some local operators.
Destination Queenstown Chief Executive Paul Abbot says the tourism industry has been pressing for a date to work towards for borders reopening so it is great to finally have a target in sight.
“It has been an incredibly challenging time for the local business community. They have adapted considerably and restructured their business models to keep afloat and keep staff employed. While some have had to go into hibernation, others have had to reluctantly reduce hours and staffing numbers to keep their business running.
“They have persevered and done an admirable job handling various lockdowns and changes in Alert Levels, the short-lived Australian QFT arrangement, and the changes in operational requirements. However, I am concerned that the border reopening date is too far away and will come too late for some businesses,” says Mr Abbot.
When international borders do reopen, all travellers will need to self-isolate for seven days before being able to move around New Zealand.
“The self-isolation requirement is likely to deter international travellers, particularly Australian visitors, who were Queenstown’s biggest international market pre-COVID. I expect the Australian Government will promote and incentivise domestic travel, so when faced with that or coming to New Zealand to self-isolate for a week, the majority are likely to opt for domestic travel.”
Since yesterday’s announcement, there have been various cancellations of Australian conference and business events for the Queenstown region. This includes several cancellations of confirmed and prospective business events adding up to a value of around $20m to $30m. These figures are expected to continue to rise and be much higher.
“I urge the New Zealand Government to reconsider and remove the self-isolation requirement. Our operators are already facing a bleak Christmas period, and this is likely to further add to their levels of stress and financial hardship. We will lose a big chunk of 2022 winter travel if this requirement is in place. We have already faced a lost 2020 winter and the majority of 2021 winter.”
“New Zealand needs tourism for the economy to rebound and recover. It is one of the main pillars of our national economy and accounts for approximately 50% of full-time jobs in the region. By restoring this industry, we can get out of this limbo, return to contributing to the country’s tourism GDP and start moving forward,” adds Mr Abbot.
- At year-end 2020, tourism made up 44% of the district’s GDP (tourism was 5.1% of national GDP). Source: Infometrics Queenstown-Lakes District Economic profile (year end March 2020).
- For every one Queenstown Lakes resident, $73,594 was spent by visitors on local tourism (at year end 2019). Source: Tourism New Zealand Industry Insights (November 2020).
- Tourism GDP grew by 665% between 2000-2020 to a massive $1.5 billion. Source: Infometrics Queenstown-Lakes District Economic profile (year end March 2020).