City tourism operations relieved as bookings lift

The new Dunedin Palms Motel keeps the Art Deco style of its predecessor on the High St site....
The Dunedin Palms Motel. Photo Bruce Munro.
While no records are expected to be broken during the Covid-19 pandemic, many Dunedin accommodation and tourism businesses are expecting to be busy this Labour Weekend.

Dunedin Holiday Park and Motels manager Kathleen Archer said her facilities were fully booked this Saturday, and filling up fast on Sunday.

"It’s really cool. It’s making our bank account feel much better."

She said business had been "ticking along quite nicely" since the lockdown.

"It hasn’t been too bad for us.

"It’s been great to see lots of Kiwis out there travelling and seeing their own country and taking advantage of cheap motorhomes that are going at the moment."

However, Motel Association (Otago) president and Dunedin Palms Motel owner Alex Greenan said Dunedin motels were not traditionally busy over Labour Weekend, and this weekend was no different.

"I have spoken to a couple of [moteliers] and there’s definitely no records being set this weekend."

In the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown, he said many customers were booking late, or just turning up on the day, because they were scared of not getting a refund if they had to cancel their travel plans, for unforeseen reasons.

Mr Greenan said things were slowly but steadily improving and moteliers were able to start paying some of their bills as income started to trickle back in.

"But we’ve still got a long way to go."

Monarch Wildlife Cruises and Tours operations and marketing manager Chris McNeill said bookings for Saturday and Sunday were among the highest they had experienced since the lockdown.

"We’ve got pretty decent numbers, considering.

"We’re positive about it, and grateful to the community for their support."

Royal Albatross Centre operations manager Chris McNeill said it was difficult to tell how busy the centre and Blue Penguins Pukekura would be this weekend, because tourists generally turned up unannounced, giving no prior indication they were coming.

However, he said there was one large tour from Marlborough booked for Sunday.

Larnach Castle sales and marketing manager Deborah Price said accommodation at the facility was booked out for the whole weekend, and the castle was expected to be very busy with tours.

She was delighted with the support from both the local community, and tourists coming from as far away as the North Island.

"Obviously, we’ve lost 65% of our market with the loss of international tourists, but we have been very pleasantly surprised by the amount of domestic visitors we’ve been getting — particularly from the North Island."

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