In the door
March 16 2020 by Scott Stevens
The world sneezes and Queenstown gets a nasty virus. Where the COVID-19 Pandemic goes from here is anyone’s guess. Obviously, nothing is more important than good health and we will all be paying particularly close attention to that. Fingers crossed one case of COVID-19 in Queenstown does not turn into more. Economically however, it’s a whole new kettle of fish. From employee to employer, small business to large corporation, it’s a worrying situation.
Running a business has never been easy. Admittedly at times it seems easy, but it never is, especially when the “situation” is so far out of your control it’s akin to aliens landing. Queenstown has literally been turned on its head. For the foreseeable future we are an international tourism destination no more. Is there a silver lining? You would have to stretch the bow far back to find one, but yes there kind of is.
Timing is everything and at least we are at the tail end of the summer season. April, May and June are not generally mission critical months for most businesses in town. The anti-growth crusaders may even be celebrating as sick as that sounds. I did not hear the 7am jet from Auckland this morning. Maybe it was cancelled along with numerous other flights in and out of ZQN. If you are one of those old school locals who wish for Queenstown to be “the way it was in 1984”, congratulations your wish is granted. At least in the short term our traffic congestion problems are solved, our dangerous foreign drivers are gone, replaced with tumble weeds rolling down Shotover Street.
Hope of lessoning the blow now lays firmly at the feet of us, the locals. If we go into lock down our local businesses will suffer all the more. It might actually be quite nice to have the place to ourselves. One thing you can be absolutely sure of is your custom at a local restaurant, bar, attraction or activity will be extremely well received. If we do not support ourselves there is a very good chance this COVID-19 situation will put hundreds out of work and tip dozens of businesses over the edge. Local customers are for now back in their rightful place at the top of the appreciation tree.
As alien as it might seem, this is not the first time the world has gone into panic mode and time will tell if that panic is really justified. Regardless, the hardest part to get your head around is nobody knows how deep and how long the COVID-19 economic cut will be. Uncertainty is business confidence’s worst nightmare. In the last 15 years we have had swine flu, bird flu, volcanic ash clouds and global recession. That’s life, the smart money plans for such things. Easier said than done.
Scott Stevens - Local business owner