How COVID-19 pandemic plagued NZ tourism; The sector’s response, and prospects

Summary

  • 2020 has been a devastating year for the world tourism, and New Zealand has also suffered because of the sealed borders due to COVID-19.
  • Efforts were made to promote in-house tourism by the NZ government in order to salvage 2020 condition.
  • Government aims at opening tourism between New Zealand and several locations in Australia if things go well in the near future.

 

For New Zealand, a country that relies largely on tourism for its earnings, 2020 came crashing, bringing things to a complete standstill due to the spread of the deadly global coronavirus Pandemic.

 

There was so much chaos and uncertainty faced by world markets pertaining to every sector, but tourism and hospitality industry were arguably the worst hit.

Image source: Shutterstock

 

Tourism took a complete tumble. Several small businesses that functioned only on the basis of tourism were forced to shut operations. With flights being cancelled and international borders sealed for several months, the Tourism industry has witnessed a lot of turmoil.

 

With the vaccine now being administered across the world, there are hopes that things will get better in the near future. But how did the country get through the past year? What did the government and travel authorities do about the worst phase of the industry?

 

Read further to find more!

 

Promoting local tourism

In the wake of the current situation, the authorities, as well as the government began promoting local tourism. Kiwis from across the country are taking trips to discover the glories of their own hidden gems. There is so much New Zealand has to offer and it could help in restoring the situation of the travel industry to some extent.

 

 

Ski Season without visitors

In June 2020, when ski season began in the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had urged Kiwis to take holidays within their home country. The travel restrictions meant no foreign tourists could arrive in New Zealand, which makes up for a ginormous part of the earnings through the sector.

 

While foreign travellers that make up for about half of the country’s travel earnings, amounting to a massive NZ$16.1 billion on yearly basis, was missing in 2020. Arden acknowledged the enthusiasm of the domestic tourists as a ray of hope.

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

There has also been the launch of an international campaign titled “Message From New Zealand”, which aims at promoting the country’s tourism in order to help the sector benefit once the borders open and New Zealand starts entertaining global visitors.

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The Strategic Tourism Assets Management Programme

With the primary aim of protecting tourism assets, this programme is created to ensure that the COVID-19-related ill effects on New Zealand Tourism are tackled correctly. Supporting local businesses related to tourism and keeping in mind the advice given by the Mbie, there are funds allocated to different areas, allocated by the Tourism Recovery Ministries Group.

 

Businesses have been offered funding with characteristics such as:

  • Loans for a 5-year duration,
  • Interest-free loan and one does not have to pay it back for the first 2 years,
  • Unsecured loans and
  • 3% p.a. interest rates.

The aim of this scheme is to help local businesses fight the effects of COVID-19 on their income and come back stronger. They also wish to make these businesses robust to be able to handle large volumes of tourism once things start getting back to normal.

Currently, the government is working to make New Zealand travel easier through relaxation and amendments in the visa application process and other formalities, so that once the air bubble is relaxed and international passengers are allowed to travel in New Zealand, more and more people can plan their trips.

Future plans by the government

While the government is making all possible plans and strategies to ensure that tourism gets back to its full glory in the future, it is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring the safety of people.

It was stated on 13th of January 2021 that the “Trans-Tasman” Bubble plan could be in the picture, by the month of April, even though there had been cases of the new strain of COVID-19 virus, found in many states in Australia.

Chris Hipkins, the COVID-19 response minister, is of the view that the COVID-19 cases in New Zealand and Australia are closely being monitored, and only once, both the countries reach a middle ground about border safety and health requirements, the safe travel zone can start functioning.

 


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