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The Otago Peninsula Trust marketing manager said bookings for the Royal Albatross Centre through the i-SITE in the Octagon were down 44% two weeks ago and 39% last week.
"A lot of our business comes via the i-SITE ... it’s a huge and serious concern for us," she said.
The number of cruise ship passengers has been up by almost half during the time of the Octagon closure.
But Ms Barker said she was more concerned as to what was happening to the 90% of visitors to Dunedin who were not cruise ship passengers, those she described as being a FIT [fully independent traveller] or part of a tour group.
Her theory was they were, for some reason, put off from getting to the i-SITE, which sits near one corner of the Octagon.
"Because there is no other reason really, for our bookings to have fallen so dramatically - this is the only thing that has changed.
"If they can’t park or they can’t walk, if they can’t find the way. In all of our information and brochures we’ve invested heavily in promoting the i-SITE as a place to book. If they can’t make it here, what are they going to do?"
The organisation had only last year increased spending on wages and marketing, which meant it was now going to feel the pinch from the reduction in bookings, Ms Barker said.
The organisation had recently employed its bus drivers as fulltime workers, rather than contractors.
"We’ve also put all of our staff on living wage, which was a huge leap forward for us but we also had very, very tight budgets to be able to do this so we’re incredibly stressed by the ability to carry on the business and pay our team during that time."
It was unlikely the effects of the novel coronavirus or bad weather would seriously affect the number of people booking through the i-SITE, Ms Barker said.
"We’ve had a few cancellations because of coronavirus. That would be some of the forward bookings, not the bookings in the last couple of weeks."
As a councillor, she was now aware of how important the Octagon was for a lot of Dunedin businesses.
"I will be very interested to see the statistics [of the Octagon closure]," she said.
"First of all, there should have been good consultation at the start. Maybe people aren’t understanding how much business has come through the Octagon, how important it is to everybody.
"We all invest way back six months before the season starts, into stock, into staff, all that kind of stuff and to have a shock like this is really hard."
But she said she would not be surprised if the Octagon closure became permanent.
"There’s a lot of people that support the Octagon closing in some form.
The council was approached for comment but has yet to respond.