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Tim Barke.
Tim Barke.
Some Wanaka businesses appear to be surviving marginally better than those in Queenstown but "there is a cliff coming" if the border with Australia does not open soon.

That is the prediction of Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager Tim Barke who was recently confirmed in the role after acting in the position for six months.

Mr Barke said "over here [Wanaka] the retail premises have managed to survive, some have been doing quite well and others have been finding it tough, but I am not aware of any that have tipped over yet".

He said a lot of businesses had been hanging on and surviving in the hope the Australian border would open soon, but it was now anyone’s guess when that would happen.

"Businesses cannot keep operating on zero revenue or next to no revenue ... and we are reaching a tipping point," he said.

Wanaka businesses could do with more help from central government in the meantime,
Mr Barke said.

He did not think anyone was "putting their hand out for big profits", they just wanted to survive until the borders opened.

He warned if tourism businesses closed in the interim, the tourism product, the level of expertise, the intellectual property and the staff would not be there when the industry had to suddenly scale back up.

The Lake Wanaka Tourism regional tourist organisation promoted and represented more than 460 tourist businesses and operators to the domestic market and the rest of the world.

Mr Barke said it was a "really, really challenging time" to take on the job but it was also very rewarding.

"There has been more collaboration [between businesses and with Lake Wanaka Tourism] working together and leaning on each other in this last year than I have ever seen before, which is great."

Mr Barke said he was in almost daily communication with other regional tourist organisations, particularly Destination Queenstown, discussing new marketing strategies and ideas, and they had a campaign ready to go as soon as the borders reopened with Australia.



Within the hospitality/tourism insdustry there seems to be either a lack of understanding of how tourists will return, or are just beating their drum for greater handouts.
When international tourism returns it will not change from zero, to the return of over tourism in the blink of an eye. There will be plenty of time to ramp up, and allow for new business to meet the needs of what future tourism may look like.

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