Grim outlook for tourist businesses

Nearly half of Queenstown accommodation and hospitality business owners responding to a recent survey say they expect to go under in the next three to six months, if Auckland stays in lockdown.

The survey was carried out two weeks ago, before Monday’s announcement Auckland’s lockdown would be extended for at least another fortnight.

Resort accommodation providers are reporting a fresh wave of cancelled bookings after Air New Zealand subsequently cancelled all flights from Auckland until October 19.

Lakes District Accommodation Sector lobby group member Nik Kiddle said he received 58 responses after sending the survey to 146 members and food and beverage businesses.

Of those businesses, 49% said they expected to survive for only three to six months if Auckland stayed in lockdown, while 68% said they did not expect to survive another year.

‘‘That’s astonishing. If we lose 49% of our food and beverage and accommodation outlets in the next three to six months, this town is going to be a real ghost town.’’

Mr Kiddle, who manages the Villa del Lago holiday apartments, said the cancellation of flights from Auckland had not just triggered cancellations by residents of that city, but by all North Islanders who normally used its airport as a transit hub.

Bookings for peak times — including Labour Weekend, next month’s Cyclorama e-bike festival, and the Christmas and New Year period — were ‘‘still on the cards’’.

‘‘But with [director-general of health] Ashley Bloomfield saying he might want to run this lockdown for another eight weeks in Auckland, then if that happens, jeepers, we’re going to lose everything.’’

Resort businesses would be pushed ‘‘over the brink’’ unless they received targeted assistance from the Government, he said.

Highview Apartments general manager Carlyn Topp said a five-night conference booking next week, for the whole complex, was cancelled after Monday’s announcement, and she also lost all the school holiday bookings for the Marina Terrace Apartments in Wanaka.

‘‘If you’re not in Wellington or Christchurch, you can’t get to Queenstown,’’ Ms Topp said.

Queenstown hostel operator Brett Duncan said he had been getting cancellations every time the Government extended the Auckland lockdown.

‘‘I’d say 80% of them are cancelling straight up, and 20% are rescheduling.’’

Mr Duncan, who owned Adventure Queenstown and Adventure Q2 hostels, said although bookings for the New Year period were ‘‘relatively strong’’, the outlook for the next few months was not promising.

‘‘I expect hostels in Queenstown to be very quiet from November through to whenever they open up to Australia — whenever that might be.’’

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ruth Stokes said the picture painted by the survey was ‘‘just sad’’.

Since Monday, hoteliers and moteliers had been reporting ‘‘huge swathes’’ of lost bookings.

She believed Auckland Airport could safely operate as a transit hub under Level 3.

‘‘Enabling people to transit through Auckland obviously opens the rest of the country up, hugely.

‘‘People have had their flights cancelled on Monday for flights this week, and they don’t have alternative options, or if they do they’re really expensive, so they’re cancelling their whole holidays.’’

However, she emphasised it was not Air NZ’s fault, the airline having no choice but to respond to government policy. — Mountain Scene

Comments

With all that's going on with this pandemic, it's sad to see the banks are still making billions, billions from those whom are just trying to keep there staff employed, so they can feed the families, and the business owners the same.
Unfortunately banks , are the route cause these businesses are going broke, under the current pressure of covid 19.

Yes Elco1 the banks have always done well but its finally wonderful to see interest rates rise for those whom have been saving their dollars and are set to see something in return for their efforts. May they rise further and swiftly as savers have been subsidising borrowers for over 7 years and at last the innevitable tables are turning. As for Queenstown businesses if you price your services accordingly I may well take the drive up for a weekend once my interest payments start flowing.

@Driver1 - I wouldn't hold my breath. At .25 basis points, and only a very modest increase over the next 2 years, long term investments will not see anywhere near the same relative returns. You might actually manage to afford the petrol or diesel costs to get to Queenstown.

Maybe elimination wasn't the nest approach, we could have been coming out by now instead of just about to enter a minimum of a year of rolling LD's.

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