Rotorua ready to welcome Aucklanders back as border lifts

Sam Kelway
Source: 1News

Rotorua is ready to welcome Aucklanders back to the region as the borders open from 11:59pm on Tuesday night, and it couldn't come any sooner.

Redwoods Treewalk chief executive Bruce Thomasen says his business has been hammered these last few months.

"The business has been down around 80 to 90 per cent down depending on which week - not only Auckland and Waikato not travelling, but others a bit gun-shy so really looking forward to what's about to happen," he said.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA)’s Chris Roberts says in the first year of Covid-19, 7000 businesses closed.

"We lost 72,000 workers from the tourism workforce, so it's been a really tough couple of years for our tourism operators,” he said.

“The one bright spot right now is that it is summer and able to have Aucklanders and everyone else back out there having a holiday break."

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick can't wait to see Aucklanders return.

She says the "golden window" for tourism is January and moving to the Orange traffic light setting will help struggling businesses.

"We're ready to say, ‘Come on Aucklanders, come on down, we love you and we want you’," she said.

Many tourism businesses in the region have closed and some are in hibernation.

TIA says it's working closely with the Government and hopes changes will be made when international visitors can travel here.

Come May next year, Roberts says having tourists spending seven days in isolation will be a hard sell "so we have to find a way to reduce that”.

“Otherwise, we could be locked away from the rest of the world for a long time to come."