Popular central Christchurch backpacker hostel closed due to Covid

Photo: Tripadvisor.co.nz
Photo: Tripadvisor.co.nz
A popular backpacking destination in the heart of Christchurch for more than 50 years has become another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Youth Hostel Association’s Rolleston House location on Worcester Blvd closed its doors for good last week due to a lack of international visitors.

The hostel had operated out of the heritage building since 1975.

The closure comes as backpackers nationwide have been struggling to make ends meet in light of the pandemic. Owners have considered leaving the industry due to a bleak outlook of the months to come.

YHA marketing and sales general manager Brian Westwood said the pandemic was to blame for the closure.

“It’s a direct result of the impact of Covid-19. Like everything else, it’s devastating. There’s a lot of history there, but we have to make those tough decisions in order to survive,” he said.

The hostel was one of two in the central city. YHA will now focus its attention on keeping its Hereford St hostel open for as long as it can.

Photo: Tripadvisor
Photo: Tripadvisor
Westwood said they had no intention of closing the site down and will ensure it is in a stronger position once borders opened again.

Although the domestic market had been “positive,” it was not enough to keep going, as revenues had fallen by 60 per cent.

During summer, there were usually 50,000 backpackers in New Zealand. In Christchurch, YHA hostels would be fully booked between December and April.

The normal occupancy across YHA hostels nationwide for November was usually at 70 to 75 per cent. Currently, it was sitting at just 35 per cent.

Westwood believed the Government needed to take some more steps to prevent more owners from leaving the industry, as many were just wanting some certainty.

“One is to provide some focus and leadership on how we are going to come out of this. How do we open up as opposed to keeping things locked down?” he said.

“Having an idea of what they’re thinking will go a long way, it allows businesses to make decisions about how to survive in the long run.”







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