Queenstown, New Zealand’s star tourism attraction, struggling as visitors stay away from after Covid

Queenstown, New Zealand's star tourism attraction, struggling as visitors stay away from after Covid

Queenstown, New Zealand (CNN) – A stunning autumn morning in Queenstown, New Zeland. Orange-leaved trees bordering calm Lake Wakatipu and steep mountains – the genre famous for Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” movies – remote tower.

A perfect place for a photo. However, there are very few tourists for now.

“It’s usually quiet for us in the winter,” says Betty Perkins, owner of the Million Dollar Cruise, who has been organizing boat tours on Queenstown lake for 13 years. “But it’s not quiet.”

No longer active coronaviruses Cases in New Zealand, a country of five million people. However, the boundaries remain closed and there is no exact date for a highly anticipated date. trans-tasman balloonwill open travel with its neighbors Australia.

It is left behind Queenstown – usually one of New Zealand’s most iconic attractions – fighting.

According to Queenstown NZ, the agency responsible for marketing the region, about 55% of the town’s GDP comes from tourism, and government statistics are in Queenstown-Lakes region. one of the highest GDP in the country.
However, the coronavirus pandemic changed this. Some cafes and souvenir shops around the lake are closed. Ski operators, which usually started to open at the beginning of June, delayed the start of the season. Shotover Jet boat canyons closed down key attractions such as ride down Until july.

The Nevis swing capsule in New Zealand may be the world’s most extreme journey, launching only about 500 feet of people per second.

Personal toll

All this means that thousands of people are already unemployed.

Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult estimates that currently around 7,000 people are unemployed and immigrant workers make up half of them. one last report Queenstown’s overall unemployment rate is estimated to increase from 1.1% in March this year to 18.5% in March next year – twice the projected national unemployment rate.

Boult says the town was taken to one of the poorest of New Zealand’s richest.

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“People are concerned about their jobs, their ability to provide their families, and their ability to pay their mortgages and rents,” said the mayor.

“At the end of the day, almost every business in the region depends on a version of tourism.”

Perkins is one of the lucky ones – he has his own business and has little staff and little burden, which means they don’t have to leave anyone. Still, he estimates that his business’s income is 70% lower than usual.

“We’ll just have to make progress, we’ll wait for Australia to come,” he says.

Air New Zealand introduced new prototype sleeping capsules. “Economy Skynest” will consist of six full-length flat sleeping compartments in the Economy cabin.

There is a similar situation for Dong Wang, who runs a small dumpling cart by the lake. He has only one income for his family, but his income has fallen from around $ 200 New Zealand ($ 130) a day to just $ 50.

“There’s nothing I can do,” says Wang, who comes from China but lives permanently in New Zealand. “It is very difficult to find a job. That’s why I continue.”

Others in Queenstown face an additional problem – not citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand, so they are not eligible for unemployment benefit. Statistics show that 40% The census was born abroad in the last population, but it is not clear how many are permanent residents.

A worker from a Queenstown souvenir shop, who came from China six months ago and wasn’t named for fear of retaliation, says he is about to be made unnecessary. If he cannot find another job, he may have to return to China.

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The council provides assistance with food vouchers, medical aid, public service payments, and even warm clothing, but Boult believes that the problem of unemployed migrant workers is “a humanitarian crisis in construction.”

Attracting tourists

For now, when New Zealand’s borders are closed to almost all foreigners, only people in the country can visit Queenstown.
In the past, New Zealanders avoided Queenstown because it had many international tourists. Now the town is trying to attract them there – even Boult stuffy jump To point to the alleviation of the country’s coronavirus restrictions in May.

During the last holiday weekend, businesses reported seeing an explosion when people from all over the country landed in town.

However, Boult says businesses cannot “survive” only in domestic travelers. She hopes that the Trans-Tasman balloon will run by July for the ski season, where Australians account for 30-40% of customers.

“This is really making or breaking,” he added, adding that if there is no trans-Tasman bubble until July, more businesses will fail and more jobs will be lost.

Boult believes that Queenstown will never return to pre-Covid tourism levels in terms of number of arrivals, and is looking at ways the city can be diversified, including whether it can go to education, film and medical tourism.

Simon Milne, a professor of tourism at Auckland University of Technology, says all predictions should be made with a salt grain. But Queenstown, a place where most of the economy is based on tourism, says it will be much more affected than other parts of New Zealand.

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Still, the current situation is not bad for those who can visit Queenstown.

Canadian Anna Wilhelmus and Kristy Caldwell were in Queenstown during a visit Friday. They are based in Christchurch for half a year abroad, but decided to come down to explore the area.

“It’s good that everything has ourselves,” says Caldwell.

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