Queenstown ready and waiting for influx of Auckland visitors

Source: 1News

Queenstown is ready and waiting for the influx of Auckland visitors which are expected over the Christmas and New Year break.

Queenstown, Central Otago.

It is welcome news for the adventure destination after a lockdown-affected winter season.

With the Auckland border set to open next month, things are starting to take off again for tourism hubs.

“[We’re] pretty fired up to get everyone down here, it's been quite slow leading up to now, so pretty excited to get a few more numbers through” said Blair Grieve from Queenstown Paraflights.

The tourist mecca is hoping Aucklanders, its main domestic market, will be the boost the town needs this summer, with still no sign of international visitors.

“We have noticed a few bookings coming through as soon as that was announced so yeah it's all looking good,” said Grieve.

Jo Finnigan from Hotel St Moritz said: "We are expecting a slower burn if you like, we know there is a lot of families who have been separated… we think the tourism aspect will be a little bit slower to come on through."

Meanwhile, downtown at Margo’s Restaurant, they are getting prepared and ready to serve.

"A good amount of South Island support, but let’s be honest the majority of the population based out of Auckland. There are the ones who really kept us afloat over the last couple of years,” said co-owner Bert Haines.

Air New Zealand's website traffic jumped 250 per cent since the border announcement yesterday.

Destination Queenstown figures show Aucklanders injected an extra 30 per cent into the local economy last summer.

However, lockdown saw winter visitor numbers down 23 per cent compared to last year's season.

News of the borders lifting is giving businesses welcome certainty.

"We can hire with confidence for example and our resourcing will be a lot [smoother] we hope,” said Finnigan.

There is extra confidence too, with the Southern District Health Board on course to reach the vaccination target.

Ninety-two percent of eligible people have received their first dose, and so far 83 per cent have received their second as well.

Queenstown Central is already over 90 per cent double jabbed.

"We think we will have cases of Covid of course, we are not naive to that, given that we are all heavily vaccinated as a majority I think we will be good,” said Finnigan.

Grieve said, "if the weather's good and the Aucklanders are here, yeah we'll get back on our feet”.