As most of the countries have still not opened their borders. It is getting difficult for countries where citizens depend mostly on tourism.
In New Zealand, there are no coronavirus cases currently. The country has a population of five million people. But the country has not reopened its borders. The country will reopen its border with the neighboring country Australia. But, there is no decision on the opening date yet.
Heavy Tourism Flow
Queenstown, one of the most visited tourist attractions in New Zealand. Every year three million visitors visit Queenstown. Out of these three million, 60% are international visitors.
At some point in the year, there are approximately 34 international visitors equivalent to one local resident, stressing the local infrastructure in the town.
According to an estimate from the organization in charge of the marketing of the area, Queenstown NZ, approximately tourism contributes by 55% in the town’s GDP.
Moreover, according to the government’s statistics Queenstown-Lakes district has one of the highest GDPs in the country.
Major Tourist Attractions Closed
Due to the coronavirus situation has changed. Souvenir shops and cafes around the lake are closed. Ski operators are still waiting to reopen as in normal times they use to open in early June. Tourist attractions such as Shotover Jet boat ride down canyons have not open yet. They will open till July.
New Zealand has not reopened its borders for international tourists. Only people already in the country can visit Queenstown.
Till last year the country uses to avoid Queenstown due to the heavy flow of international tourists in the town. But now they are trying to attract domestic tourists back to Queenstown.
During the recent holiday weekend, the business in town was flourishing as people from around the country were visiting the town.
Queenstown’s Mayor Jim Boult says, businesses will not survive on domestic travelers solely. He’s hoping that the trans-Tasman bubble will be set up soon and operational till the Ski season in July. Australians make up 30-40% of customers at the Ski season.
The Mayor says that if the trans-Tasman bubble is not implemented by July, then the businesses will suffer and consequently, people will lose their jobs. However, according to Boult Queenstown may not see the kind of tourism level it had pre-COVID in terms of numbers of visitors. However, they are already looking at ways the town can diversify, including whether it can move into the education, film, and medical tourism sectors.
People Losing Jobs
However, according to Boult’s estimate, there are 7,000 people who are currently not working. Whereas, half of them are migrant workers. According to a forecast, Queenstown’s overall unemployment rate would subsequently rise to 18.5% in next year March.
The Mayor says, “People are worried, really worried about their jobs, their abilities to provide for their families, their abilities to pay their mortgages and their rent.” In addition, he said that people close retirement were the ones who lost their jobs.
“At the end of the day, virtually every job in the district is dependent on some version of tourism.”
However, to help the unemployed the council is providing food vouchers, medical assistance, helping people with utility bill payments, and even providing warm clothes.