Travel firms diversifying amid border closure

Travel agents in the South are grappling with their new reality as bookings remain down by as much as 95%.

Ongoing uncertainty about borders mean travel agents are continuing to diversify and downsize in order to stay afloat.

Vincent George Travel director Rosann Connolly-George said its Dunedin location remained open, but the firm was "heavily diversifying" in order to stay afloat, having lost 95% of its business.

The company was moving in to providing domestic travel options around New Zealand, including bus trips with short stays.

Repatriation flights to Australia were making up about 50% of business, Mrs Connolly-George said.

"Tours are about 10% and then the balance is assisting people with flights domestically. We do still have some domestic product."

Diversifying into the domestic market was "difficult" at times, as New Zealanders tended to book domestic travel themselves.

Job sharing and seeking part-time work for additional income were other options for staff.

Hello World managing director Andrew Carmody said all its stores were still open, but with restricted hours and staffing.

It was dealing with credits and refunds for clients, but had also made the shift to domestic travel and repatriation flights, as well as corporate travel.

"But until the borders are open it’s going to be pretty tough."

Flight Centre this week announced it would close 23 stores; 160 jobs would be lost.

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