Ski operators hit by ‘mass cancellations’ due to NSW Covid outbreak
Sydney Covid-19 epidemic drops to 48 – Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall tests positive. Video / Sky News Australia
By Tess Brunton, RNZ
Some Queenstown Lakes ski areas have been inundated with cancellations as non-quarantine trips remain out of reach during most New South Wales school holidays.
Yesterday, the government confirmed that the travel hiatus will last another 12 days after the Sydney community epidemic.
New South Wales students are due to start their winter school vacation tomorrow with several other states, but as of tonight several parts of Sydney will be stranded.
The July school holidays had been seen as the beacon for some New Zealand tourism operators – when they would really start reaping the rewards of the trans-Tasman bubble.
NZ Ski operates Mt Hutt in Canterbury and Coronet Peak and the Remarkables near Queenstown.
While Mount Hutt received decent snowfall, the fields of Queenstown faced warmer temperatures and patchy snowfall.
NZ Ski chief executive Paul Anderson expected the slow start to turn around quickly with the influx of travelers from New South Wales and other states.
“We are delighted to see the break in non-quarantine travel between New Zealand and New South Wales. We have had very good bookings from New South Wales for next week, the week starting June 28 So it’s the first week of their vacation school.
“And then the following week starting July 5, our reservations were close to capacity. So we’re seeing massive cancellations coming in now,” Anderson said.
Australians made up half of the people on the Remarkables beginner slopes over the past three days.
“It’s a big impact, we can’t hide from it. The New South Wales market is our main market outside of the east coast of Australia,” Anderson said.
“Having said that we have to take into account that we have Victoria and we have Queensland in particular so we will always have visitors coming from there to keep us going for the next couple of weeks and they expect some busy school holidays in New Zealand. “
Before Covid, Australians made up about a third of those on the slopes at Cardrona Alpine Resort and the Treble Cone ski area, with half of those in New South Wales.
Managing Director Bridget Legnavsky felt relieved by the bubble break despite upcoming cancellations.
Ironically, with a bit of a patchy start right now, it’s pretty early for us. It’s almost a coincidence that we’re having a bit of a hard time opening up the entire complex.
“And we wouldn’t have been able to provide a great experience for a lot of people, so it’s been going pretty well for us even though we’re going to lose this business,” she said.
She wanted to make sure the Sydney epidemic was under control before the doors opened again.
“What would probably hurt us more is if we got into a level 2, or clearly level 3, situation in that district and had to shut down. So we’re just thankful for now, we’re still at level 1 and able to function. Things get much more complicated for us at level 2. “
In recent weeks, the Millbrook Resort Queenstown has placed a cap on reservations and a waiting list.
Its director of operations, Brian Howie, said cancellations for June started yesterday, but July was holding up.
“We are now seeing more cancellations coming in for this first part of July. I think it’s clear Sydney is going to be a big market for us for this Australian school holiday period. What if the bubbles spread right now until July 6, we expect there will be further cancellations. “
So far, Howie said, it hasn’t been as bad as it could be, but that could change over the next few days.
“What we find is that these reservations that are canceled, some of them are shifted to later dates. So it’s not a total cancellation, it’s about trying to book again if they can. Yes, there are cancellations because people won’t necessarily have that flexibility. “
This meant that the fall in June and early July was recovered in August and September.
Natalie Ward, general manager of Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park, didn’t expect much of a difference for her business, but she did expect other businesses to feel the loss.
“It’s been a very quiet time since the Easter school holidays. The whole area is extremely – you know, extremely, extremely – quiet. So a lot of places and operators who were really, really hoping that this would kick us back to again for sure. “
About three-quarters of international visitors to our tracks are Australians and the biggest market across the divide is Sydney.
Aotearoa tourism industry chief executive Chris Roberts said Australia’s winter holiday marked a shift from family and friend-focused travel to more vacationers.
“Now of course they can’t come from NSW. They can still come from other Australian states, so we’ll have Australians on the ski slopes starting this weekend.
“But for those who were planning on coming from Sydney and NSW, they will have to cancel their plans. Hopefully some of them can book for later, but it’s a blow. by the time we start the ski season. “
Queenstown Lakes businesses were hopeful it was only a temporary setback before travel could resume.