There is no kind or gentle way to describe the impact that COVID19 is going to have on the New Zealand economy. The recession that is going come from events of all sorts being stopped – sporting fixtures, cultural festivals, technological shows (airshows and such), concerts and gigs, among so many others – is going hit very soon. It will be hard, deep and prolonged.
- HARD: Many jobs are going to disappear in the very near future as the effect of events being cancelled, a downturn in demand and people shying away from going out, sinks in.
- DEEP: Every community from the far north to Half Moon Bay, from the Chatham Islands to Greymouth is going to feel the pinch. The socio-economic stresses that will accompany this are not yet known but it would a bald faced lie to say they will not hurt.
- PROLONGED: No cruise ships until the end of June. As bad as this seems now, the barometer is going to fall, both here and abroad for sometime yet as the full impact of COVID19 makes itself known.
So rather than write a wholly negative post about how bad things are going to be and thinking the end is coming – though in Ireland, one might be forgiven with the effective cancellation of St. Paddy’s Day that it has – I instead endeavour to talk about how we might help the tourism industry.
Now is a great time to – instead of travelling overseas to places that have effectively shut down and will probably not welcome you very warmly – have a look around one of the greatest island nations in the world. New Zealand has a ton of things to see and do and some absolute off-the-beaten-trail gems if you know where to look. In the North Island, Orakei Korako geothermal reserve near the Ohakuri power station is one such place. Not well known and called the “Hidden Valley”, it is possible to spend a good couple hours there easily. In the South Island, Okains Bay on Banks Peninsula is a delightful little bay with a museum, nice sandy beach and a walk around the shoreline on an old route going past an old wharf. If Okains Bay is not for you, then the lovely little French-themed town of Akaroa is just over the hill.
Here is where New Zealand tourist operators need to get realistic, and which I hope is assisted by the Government’s package – the details of which are being worked out at the moment – and accept that many attractions are currently beyond the affordability of many New Zealand budgets. This would be an ideal chance to address this with what are known over overseas as “local rates” where people of that country get maybe a 25% discount.
But this should not only apply to tourist activity operators. Rental car firms, the Inter Island ferry and the motel industry would do well to look at such ideas as well. The money would be clawed back by the increased number of New Zealanders hopefully moving to fill some of the void left behind by the absence of overseas tourists.