Mackenzie tourism operators hope for summer increase

Mackenzie tourism operators heading for a second summer pandemic are hoping North Islanders are ready for a change of scenery.

Lake Tekapo Holiday Homes owner Caroll Simcox, who manages around 60 properties, said the 107-day Auckland foreclosure had a “significant impact” on business, causing “very quiet November and December”.

“Some companies are hanging on well and some are finding it very difficult,” Simcox said.

“I think everyone is a little bit exhausted, a little bit down on all of this,” she said.

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Operators “went to great lengths to ensure” that policies were in place for the new traffic light system, she said.

“For food and drink [businesses] It’s hard. For accommodation, we can pretty much continue as we were in [alert] level two, but there are complex companies that are both.

Simcox said staffing remains an issue.

“Assuming we get an increase in the number of visitors after December 15, staff shortages are a big problem.

“Like many people, our membership has been cut in half over the past two years. When we’re busy, it means everyone needs to get involved – us as the owners of the business, our front-of-house managers.

She had not seen a significant increase in bookings from Auckland since the announcement of the end of the regional lockdown.

Caroll Simcox and her husband Craig are owners of Lake Tekapo Holiday Homes, managing over 20 properties.

Provided

Caroll Simcox and her husband Craig are owners of Lake Tekapo Holiday Homes, managing over 20 properties.

“We can get more from Auckland in December and more from Australia in January, but it’s going to be mostly New Zealanders going home, so they’re unlikely to spend a fortune traveling across the country.

“What we learned last year is that Kiwis go to the beach. We thought we were going to have a lot of visitors in January, February, March, but we didn’t.

But Simcox said there were positive signs, such as international ski teams planning their comeback.

Stunning views and outdoor activities made Mackenzie a tourism mecca - before Covid, around 90% of visitors were from overseas

George Empson / Supplied

Stunning views and outdoor activities made Mackenzie a tourism mecca – before Covid, around 90% of visitors were from overseas

Simcox said Lake Tekapo Holiday Homes staff are fully vaccinated.

Lydia Stoddart, director of tourism development for Mackenzie New Zealand, said the traffic light system would allow many operators to increase their capacity, and she hoped tourism would be boosted as travel restrictions to Auckland would rise.

It’s been a tough time for a tourism operator “but we’ve seen great resilience in the industry”, and she expects border openings in the new year to add “another welcome boost” .

Tekapo Springs marketing director Andy Murray said the resort requires vaccine passports to enter.

He said they had not received much reluctance, but he knows other people who have been the targets of abuse.

“Our friends in Hanmer Springs have received quite a bit of criticism, even from the locals,” Murray said.

Aviation Adventures owner and pilot Chris Rudge has relied on diversifying his offerings to keep his business going since Covid decimated tourism in the Mackenzie.  (File photo)

John Bisset / Stuff

Aviation Adventures owner and pilot Chris Rudge has relied on diversifying his offerings to keep his business going since Covid decimated tourism in the Mackenzie. (File photo)

“No one wants to be in this position, and to be fair, the government probably doesn’t want to be in this position either.”

Murray said summer vacation has traditionally been the second busiest time in the business.

He said Aucklanders usually travel in the winter, making side trips after skiing or en route to Queenstown.

However, he hopes some will want to avoid the traffic leaving Auckland at Christmas and instead choose to head south.

Lake Tākapo / Tekapo and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, where buses packed with tourists were commonplace before the pandemic

George empson

Lake Tākapo / Tekapo and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, where buses packed with tourists were commonplace before the pandemic

He agrees staffing is tricky, but said Covid exacerbates a long-term challenge for the Mackenzie.

“We were lucky that we didn’t have to fire anyone during the pandemic. There was some natural attrition, but we didn’t have to kick people out. ”

However, he said there were “a handful” of unvaccinated employees who are affected.

“We are looking at all of the options as we speak. Where can we [redeploy], we absolutely will. ”

Murray said accommodation providers told him New Years saw more stable bookings than Christmas so far, but notes New Zealanders are often “last minute planners.”

Aviation Adventures owner Chris Rudge will put in place a vaccine control that he considers “in the best interest of the industry.”

He remains positive, but is disappointed that he did not receive specific funding for tourism.

“It’s a bit difficult to take because there were millions allocated to the District of Mackenzie. Basically you had to ask a consultant to tell you whether to shut down the business, put it on the back burner, or continue.

Tourism Minister the Honorable Stuart Nash, along with Mackenzie Mayor Graham Smith, during Nash's visit to the region in June, acknowledged that Mackenzie was one of the hardest hit by the border closures.  (File photo)

Valentina Bellomo / Stuff

Tourism Minister the Honorable Stuart Nash, along with Mackenzie Mayor Graham Smith, during Nash’s visit to the region in June, acknowledged that Mackenzie was one of the hardest hit by the border closures. (File photo)

Rudge has written to the Minister of Tourism on several occasions to request relief from Civil Aviation Authority payments, but he has “fallen on deaf ears.”

He said it was difficult to predict what would happen when travel restrictions relaxed.

“Last year we did really well in August, September and November because we had all these skiers skiing for a few days and then renting cheap motorhomes, and that’s what everyone missed. world this year. ”

Rudge said he was not optimistic about international tourism, even after the borders reopened.

“Unless they come for several months and are ready to go through a week in isolation, I really can’t see most international visitors coming back for a year.”

He said his business was doing well, noting that he was “lucky to be a one-man band” but was “very, very tight”.

“You have to plan for these lean times and look to the future, trying to be innovative with new products. “

He draws on his experience as an aerial photographer to attract other photographers and has also developed a “mini museum” featuring around 300 historical aviation objects and images.

“These extra bow strings are important because you have to focus on the domestic market.”


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