Tour operators are happy to open their doors this week, but many will struggle without visiting Auckland’s Great Market.
All of New Zealand except Auckland is moving to a Covid-19 alert level 2 at midnight which means businesses can open but with strict rules for wearing masks and social distancing.
Queenstown Mayor Lex Jim Bolt said he was pleased with the inclusion of the ski fields as it would attract more people to Queenstown and Wanaka to support hospitality, accommodation and retail businesses.
He was also pleased that wage support would be available across New Zealand, while Auckland remained at levels 3 and 4.
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However, Aucklanders make up as much as 70 percent of the occasional local visitor to Queenstown, and many businesses would continue to struggle without their presence in the city, he said.
Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles answered RNZ’s questions about why the new mask rules are important in the fight against the delta variant of Covid-19.
Aotearoa Tourism Industry CEO Chris Roberts said that while Auckland remained at Tier 4, local travel and visitor activity suffered in each region.
He said all tour operators are looking forward to getting back to the first level.
Hilton Queenstown manager Chris Iman said that a small number of reservations have been entered since the announcement of the move to Level 2, and that the company is looking to reopen restaurants.
However, the number of cancellations still outnumbered the number of bookings.
“It will be interesting to see how people feel about travel. Maybe people come here on the weekend to ski.”
Historically, the post-winter shoulder season has been a quiet period, and occupancy rates are expected around 40 percent.
“I think it will be very slow growth.”