Anau business owners hoping for Aussie bubble

Radfords On The Lake owner and Fiordland branch for the accommodation sector of Hospitality New Zealand secretary Kerri James.

WITH no magic wand to wave away tourism woes, Te Anau business owners are asking for the Government’s plan for a transtasman travel bubble.

Miles Better Pies owner Paul Johnson said customer numbers during spring were about half what they would normally expect with borders open to international tourists.

Then during summer, it got busy.

“We got lucky, we are a food-orientated business… we were in demand and have a following.”

He could not say the same for those reliant on international tourism.

Miles Better Pies owner Paul Johnson says winter will be hard for Te Anau businesses.

“I think the hardest period for Te Anau is going to be winter time.”

In terms of help, he said while there had been money handed out, businesses’ fixed costs did not change.

He wondered if there would be an option for Government assistance during the winter shut-down period of businesses still paying rent, and said the community needed to know of any government plan for a transtasman bubble.

It was difficult to say what the community needed.

“There’s no magic wand out there.”

Radfords On The Lake owner and Fiordland branch for the accommodation sector of Hospitality New Zealand secretary Kerri James said having a date for a transtasman bubble would give them certainty to plan.

“There’s already a number of shops and businesses up the main street closed, because, there is no end in sight at this point.”

Te Anau was in bad shape, she said.

Not solely reliant on tourism, Southern Lakes Helicopters had fared better than others in the town, the company’s office manager Erin Robertson said.

When asked what the community needed, she said it was a difficult question to answer.

“Everything we get from the Government we are paying with taxes and levies, so we can’t all expect handouts.”

She wanted recognition of the area’s issues.

“We have always sort of been the poor cousins to Queenstown.”

Having a transtasman bubble would be a good start, she said.

“When travel does start up again we will be a very attractive destination, but my fear is, that will not be any time soon.”

She worried there would not be enough accommodation, activities and restaurants open by the time it happened.

“People cannot reset up a business overnight.”

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash visited Te Anau last Thursday and said he was going to take concerns shared with him to Cabinet last Monday.