The tourism industry is feeling hopeful as the country enters the next phase of its border reopening plan—with many operators excited to report forward bookings.
While the industry is not expecting an immediate influx of visitors, forward bookings are giving operators some certainty in their future planning. “Forward bookings from visa-waiver countries are looking optimistic, with visitors planning to arrive in late spring and early summer,” says TIA Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram.
Vanessa McKay, Managing Director of Carino Wildlife Cruises in Paihia, is looking forward to having more certainty. “We are super excited the borders have reopened,” she says. “Although it will still be quiet here in Northland through winter, it means we can start to make some real plans regarding employing staff, scheduling cruises and capital investment.”
Ms McKay says forward bookings for the upcoming summer season are looking great and the demand from international wholesalers is strong.
“It is looking like it will be a busy summer for us. We can’t wait to welcome back our international guests, to take them cruising again, share stories with them and inspire them with our passion for the ocean.”
Ngāi Tahu Tourism General Manager Jolanda Cave says their tourism attractions are also starting to see an increase in the number of international manuhiri (visitors) making bookings for the summer season.
Cave says during the quieter period, Ngāi Tahu Tourism has focused on its cultural storytelling, ensuring it has on offer the best product possible.
“We can’t wait to showcase our products to our international friends again. We know there will be a few extra hurdles for visitors who come from overseas and so we want to make sure that their experience with Ngāi Tahu Tourism is worth the wait.”
David Gatward-Fergusson from Nomad Safaris in Queenstown says: “All of us in the industry are thankful and delighted that we have progress and that at some point in the future a new normal will emerge.”
The tourism industry wants to make an active and positive contribution to New Zealand's recovery from COVID, says TIA, and the first step is supporting our tourism businesses to step back on the front foot so they can deliver the manaakitanga that makes us world famous.