West Coast hotel out of hibernation as travel bubble nears

A single person is liable to pay $3100 of the $6000 cost to accommodate them for a fortnight....
New Zealand's largest locally owned and operated hotel group last month announced the closure of four of its hotels on the Coast but today said its largest would remain open. Photo: Getty stock Images
Scenic Group is reversing a decision to put a West Coast hotel into hibernation following a spike in interest from Australia as the transtasman bubble looms.

New Zealand's largest locally owned and operated hotel group last month announced the closure of four of its hotels on the Coast but today said its largest, the 130-room Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, would remain open.

"The recent announcement has offered a lifeline to a crippled tourism sector, and while Australia made up only a portion of international travel, it is a significant number and is hugely welcomed by the sector," said Scenic Hotel Group managing director Brendan Taylor.

The enabling of inbound visitors from Australia has given the group enough confidence to halt the hibernation of its largest West Coast property. Taylor said that the benefits to staff and community were "significant" in so much as saving jobs, which is an absolute priority, but also in increasing the viability of the region to the Australian market.

Transtasman travel without the need to quarantine on either side of ditch is set to resume on Monday.

"The bubble could not have come soon enough for our people and properties and it is great that we can put the welcome mat out to our Australian guests these coming school holidays."

Taylor said there had been a 300 per cent spike in web traffic since the announcement, with holiday hot spots such as Queenstown welcoming the increase in bookings.

Scenic Group has the largest inventory of rooms in the region and as such markets actively to international groups.

By keeping the Franz Josef hotel open it has the ability to attract groups business to the region, which in turn will share the business around other operators and activities in the area.

The remaining three West Coast properties - Te Waonui Forest Retreat, Scenic Fox Glacier and Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier - will remain in hibernation until market conditions can support re-opening them.

A Covid-19 impact by Development West Coast (DWC) and the Glacier Country Tourism Group in February showed 15.5 per cent of businesses in the region were not operating and 16 businesses have shut their doors.

Booking service Bachcare is also reporting strong interest in New Zealand properties in the past week with bookings up from Australia by 70 per cent on lthe same week in 2019 - pre-Covid.

The total number of bookings on both sides of the Tasman are up 115 per cent on the that week.

Cordis Auckland also reported a spike in interest since the bubble announcement and other hotels say bookings are building for May and June.

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