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Coming! Ready or Not!

December 6 2021 by Mayor Jim Boult

Coming! Ready or Not!

In case you’ve missed the news, effective 15 December, our good friends from Auckland will be able to travel to our part of the world – provided of course that they are either double vaxxed or have presented a negative COVID-19 test. I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of our district that a visit from Aucklanders means so much.

Just to rewind the clock a little and put matters into context, international tourism (pre-COVID) was responsible for around two thirds of the tourism spend in the Queenstown Lakes District. Of the remaining one third, sixty percent came from Auckland. So at the present time, we’ve been operating on effectively thirteen percent of our pre-COVID tourism market. Interestingly enough, I think the occupancy rates reported by hotels and motels and the business levels by activity providers rather reflects about that level.

Understandably, while there’s a lot of excitement about the return of the Auckland market pre-Christmas, there’s also some trepidation. COVID-19 is still active in the Auckland area and there is the understandable fear that comes with expecting COVID cases in our part of the world. On the practical side though, COVID is active in other parts of the country which currently have access to our district so while Auckland is a much bigger market, the danger already exists.

Are we ready? Well, I think we are as ready as we can be. As I’m writing this I understand that in excess of 94% of our population have been double vaxxed and many of us have done as much as we can to prepare. We’ve discussed contingency plans with the DHB and they will be active in setting up testing stations, in both Queenstown and Wanaka, and getting plenty of messaging out, making it clear to visitors that at the first sign of any symptoms they must be tested and isolating. There’s also some work going on to plan for providing accommodation options for anyone that does test COVID positive while they are here.

We also need to do our bit and make sure we follow all the rules by mask wearing, contact tracing, much handwashing, (remember to sing Happy Birthday while you’re washing your hands! – that’s about the right amount of time to do it effectively) and just generally being aware of your own position.

To all the businesses in town, I sincerely hope you have a really busy and fruitful trading period over the summer holidays. To everyone else, I have to say thank goodness 2021 is nearing an end, it hasn’t been a stellar year but we’ve pulled together and supported each other to almost make it through. I’m very much looking forward to a wonderful Christmas and New Year period and a very positive 2022. I wish the same for each and every one of you.

Mayor Jim Boult

- Mayor Jim Boult