Aucklanders, a welcome boost to Nelson’s tourism sector
Braden Fastier / Nelson Mail
A Wilsons Abel Tasman cruise ship departs Awaroa Beach in Abel Tasman National Park.
The Aucklanders have already started booking their summer vacation in Nelson, with the super-city’s Covid-19 cordon set to be lifted soon.
Nelson tourism operators say easing restrictions at Auckland’s borders will provide a much needed financial boost to the sector and the community must now learn to live with the Covid-19 virus.
The Auckland cordon will be lifted on December 15 to allow for Christmas travel, by which time the entire country will be switched to the less restrictive “traffic light” system – whether the government’s 90% immunization target is met or no.
Only fully vaccinated people or those with a negative test result will be able to travel outside Auckland, although children under 12 do not need to be tested when leaving the city.
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Air New Zealand’s requirement for domestic passengers to be fully vaccinated or produce a negative Covid test prior to departure, from December 15 to March 31, will be extended to inter-island ferries.
Munro Hotels Group chief executive Garry Munro welcomed the opening of the Auckland border, saying reservations have already started arriving from Aucklanders for his businesses Nelson, Trailways Hotel and DeLorenzo’s Studio Apartments. Reservations were for stays from December 18 and just after Christmas, as well as for the New Year.
This was a “definitive” increase in forward bookings, and one which was welcome given that Aucklanders accounted for half of the domestic tourism market, Munro said.
“We have suffered and we are delighted to get it back,” he said.
“It’s a start. People are making plans.
It was always inevitable that Covid-19 would eventually enter Nelson’s community “so we just have to learn to live with it somehow,” he said, adding that it was important that Aucklanders are not treated any differently from other visitors.
“We really need them.
Wilsons chief executive Abel Tasman Darryl Wilson said many people had mixed feelings about stopping the elimination strategy and communities learning to live with Covid-19, “but it’s inevitable” .
The government’s plan to move forward with the new Covid traffic light system and the lifting of the Auckland cordon in mid-December “will never be perfect”, but it would benefit the park’s tourist operator National Abel Tasman, he said.
“As a benefit, we’ll see a lot more visitors. We must hope that herd immunity through vaccination will minimize the impacts.
“There is optimism that this is the start of a new future, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the future I would choose,” Wilson said.
The pandemic and the Auckland market shutdown had a major impact on his business, Wilson said. Advance bookings had looked good for this spring, but the lockdown and Auckland cordon meant half of those bookings were lost because visitors were coming from Auckland or had to go through Auckland on flights “which made that impossible.” .
Wilsons Abel Tasman was now working on his processes to address issues such as how he would handle a Covid case and how to cover staff absences for Covid-related illnesses in the future.
He hoped that rapid tests would become the norm “to provide a guarantee when people are uncomfortable”.
Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ali Boswijk said the Aucklanders staying and spending in the Nelson area again would be great for the local economy, although “there is a slight concern about what this means for the spread of Covid. “
“It will be a positive thing because of the influx of people – it’s just the way we deal with the impact,” she said.
Most of the companies Boswijk had spoken with were considering implementing Covid vaccine passes that would restrict entry to public places such as hospitality venues and event venues only to those that are fully vaccinated or with an official exemption.