tourism

Editorial

The Government’s Back in Love With Tourism

March 22 2022 by Matt Wong

The Government’s Back in Love With Tourism

The Aussies are coming — take two. Dare we say it? This year has to be better than the last. But it still won’t be business as usual for tourism.

April 13, 2022, marks 750 days since international borders closed.

Finally tourism, travel, hospo, and events sectors have received the monumental news that Aussies are back from next month with some key markets not long after.

This is a watershed moment for operators around the country. The government have confessed their love for tourism again and acknowledged the importance of international visitors to New Zealand’s economy.

They have committed to tangible dates to welcome guests from visa waiver countries, and to keep borders open.

The announcement provides certainty for travellers to book Queenstown with confidence, and for operators to ready their business, set a course for recovery, and reconnect with international trade.

We now look forward to a trickle of Australians leading into April school holidays, plenty of winter trans-Tasman traffic and forward bookings for spring and summer.

While Australia will return relatively quickly, boosting winter hotspots like Queenstown, many long-haul markets will look to summer, and many will take years to fully gear up, if airlines return. It won’t be business as usual for some time.

Despite the good news, many tourism operators will feel an enormous sense of relief rather than celebration. Prior to the announcement, business confidence across the sector suggested we were at rock bottom. Those who have endured now stagger to the recovery start line to run another marathon.

You’d be forgiven for thinking COVID-19 interruptions are behind us but new variants, vax passports, scanning, MIQ, mandates, RATs, self-imposed isolation, changing alert levels, and lockdowns could still prevail or return.

We will still face labour constraints, rising costs, immigration delays for employees, and processing of visitor visas.

The greatest challenge for tourism operators is to navigate the current COVID hangover and kickstart recovery, while building a future proofed business model that delivers a positive outcome to our people, community, and environment.

The big question now is can tourism build back better? Operating a tourism-reliant business for the past two years has been exhausting.

Despite this, meeting the challenge to diversify and rebuild our tourism sector back better will benefit those who choose this path with conviction.

If we want to attract and retain good staff, we have to be good employers; if we want the community to support tourism, we need to show tangible benefits; and if we want to operate in this environment for generations to come, we have to put back more than we take.

Hopefully, more of us will stick around long enough to make this aspiration a reality.

Matt Wong
Owner Managing Director, iFLY Indoor Skydiving

- Matt Wong