Western Star Column February 2022

Originally published as a column in the Western Star

Struggling Western Southland businesses, who rely on tourism and visitors to the area for a large part of their income, will find little to celebrate with the Government’s decision to open up New Zealand’s borders.

It’s been a tough couple of years for local operators with Covid lockdowns and the Government’s traffic light system taking their toll, and while domestic visitor numbers have helped boost revenue, many local operators tell me that they’re really starting to feel the pinch.

Unfortunately the Government has overlooked the urgent needs of businesses in places like Western Southland, Fiordland and Stewart Island, with its latest announcement.

The five-stage phased reopening of our border will see tourists from Australia, and other visa-free countries, allowed in no later than July, while travellers from the rest of the world will be kept out until October.

However, it’s the 10 day self-isolation period, required for all travellers, that is causing tourist operators the most concern.

In fact, some believe that the continuing requirement for self-isolation means that New Zealand will remain essentially off the map for international travellers, because nobody will consider coming here on holiday if they have to sit in a hotel room for 10 days.

Once again the Government hasn’t listened to local people, or provided local solutions that are fit for purpose.