Domestic tourism fails to compensate for lost travel bubble




As South Australia joins Victoria and NSW for a travel break without a quarantine, our local tour operators worry: where the hell are you, Australian? The peak of school holidays in New Zealand is not enough.

Kiwis are hitting popular travel spots that are typically inundated with tourists during school vacations, as the Trans-Tasman bubble break pours more and more cold water on families’ travel plans abroad.

Earlier this month, Air NZ said a record more than 670,000 Kiwis were traveling around Aotearoa during the holidays.

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Rotorua Canopy Tours general manager Paul Button said his business has seen a huge increase in demand due to the school holidays.

“We are about three times as busy as before the school holidays, but 30% less than last year because the Kiwis went crazy coming out of lockdown last July,” Button said.

Travel breaks with Australia are not to be celebrated, however. The government has now suspended non-quarantine travel from South Australia. With 18 active Covid cases, South Australia joins Victoria and New South Wales on a hiatus.

If the Trans-Tasman bubble hadn’t burst, demand from Australian travelers would have made Paul Button’s travel agency busier than last year, he said.

Before Covid, international tourists accounted for 60% of Rotorua Canopy Tours’ business, with Australians alone accounting for 40%.

“If you run a business in that environment, you just can’t relax. And this Trans Tasman bubble is a great example of that – it looked good, and now it doesn’t. times, the break is better than being in lockdown here. “

The company has made up to 18 visits per day over the past week and a half, more than double compared to before the school holidays.

According to figures from vacation home management company Bachcare, Kiwis are hitting the ski slopes in droves.

Vacation homes in Queenstown and Wanaka are at 90 percent of capacity and Arrowtown is at 88 percent.

Justin Worth operates the Snopro ski rental and delivery company in Wanaka and Queenstown.

“If you run a business in that environment, you just can’t relax. And that Trans Tasman bubble is a great example of that – it looked good, and now it isn’t.”
– Paul Button, Rotorua Canopy Tours

Worth says business is better than before Covid in Wanaka, but Queenstown, which relies heavily on the international market for both tourists and transient labor, has been hit hard by the breaks in the Trans Tasman travel bubble.

“A lot of us were ready for the Trans Tasman bubble, but it’s kind of deflated,†Worth said.

But the bright side for Queenstown is that the bubble break has eased the burden on businesses struggling to find workers.

“If the Trans Tasman bubble had been ‘all gone’, many companies might have struggled to maintain service levels. No company wants to promise too much and under-deliver. It might have been a real concern if the bubble had worked. “

He says hotels in the city have reduced room capacity and some restaurants are limiting table reservations.

Wanaka, however, is another story.

Worth works 15 hours a day during school holidays to keep up with demand.

“Queenstown feels more like luxury, but Wanaka has always been a favorite with locals. It has your motels and vacation homes run by ma-et-pa, and families can have the option to cook at home and experience the lot.

Vacation homes in Queenstown and Wanaka have reached 90 percent of capacity and Arrowtown is at 88 percent according to Bachcare. Photo: Unsplash New Zealand regional manager Todd Lacey said outside of the school holiday period, the online travel agency sees a steady increase in domestic travel bookings, especially for couples and solo travelers, as most families waited for the two-week vacation.

“We see a lot of staycations. People have fun in the premium suites of hotels in their own city for special occasions. For some people, getting out of their homes and normal routine is a really good thing to do, â€says Lacey.

He says has seen more plans postponed than canceled.

“Typically, we see Kiwis going to warmer destinations at this time of year, like Bali. So we’ve seen a lot of demand for the Gold Coast, but people are changing their trips due to the travel bubble break. We see people taking alternative trips. Decide to book in New Zealand rather than cancel plans, â€explains Lacey.

“People are pretty determined to do something. “

Meanwhile in Taupo, Garth Oakden, managing director of Tongariro River Rafting, said that while bookings for him for the vacation were down 30% from 2019, he isn’t too worried about the future. without the travel bubble.

Oakden has taken care of hosting schools across the country throughout the year for camping trips.

Garth Oakden, general manager of Tongariro River Rafting, says vacation bookings are down 30%, but he’s been busy hosting schools on school camping trips. Photo: Supplied

He says his business is “moving forward” during the bubble break and plans to “go with the flow” rather than making drastic changes.

“There’s no point just sitting there thinking it would be so good to have the Australians here because they’re not. So you just have to do what you do.

“You have to treat it like a day of fishing. You know what you’d like it to be, but you just have to enjoy what you have along the way.”



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