Fiordland in recovery but still open for tourists

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Open for business: With tourist access to Milford Sound limited to aircraft, Doubtful Sound operators have increased capacity to provide more tourists with a Fiordland experience. PHOTO: LAURA SMITH

“OPEN for business” is the post-storm message from Fiordland.

Destination Fiordland manager Madeleine Peacock said the affects of the storm to Fiordland-based companies had been mixed.

“The recent events have had an impact on operations in Fiordland, Milford Sound in particular.”

She said some companies were able to put in contingencies, and there were still many tourism opportunities in Fiordland.

“Doubtful Sound is still open for business and so those companies, as much as possible, have added extra capacity to allow for visitor overflow from Milford.”

Some operators were flying people into Milford Sound from both Te Anau and Queenstown, and the road to Milford was expected to be opened to tour buses in the near future.

However, she said some smaller companies which relied on seasonal work had to lay off staff.

“Nobody likes doing that. Operators care about their staff and that’s a really hard call to do that.”

On the other hand, several accommodation providers had received no cancellations. She said this was down to what market people were working with.

Community morale was not low, as Ms Peacock said there was a “chin up” attitude in the region.

“The Milford Track has been open for 100 years. This is not our first rodeo.”

The Fiordland Community Board posted to social media earlier in the week following a public meeting. “We know some businesses are hurting and we want to support you and connect you with both help and information as much as we can.”

It said they were assessing the economic impact and advised anyone who could not attend the meeting that questionnaires were available at the library.

“As we move into the recovery phase it’s vital that we promote Fiordland as being open for business. Some visitors won’t even know we’ve had a State of Emergency they don’t read newspapers or watch the news, and if they weren’t planning on visiting Milford Sound their travel arrangements won’t be impacted.

“We encourage all accommodation providers to be proactive in approaching upcoming guests with information on what they can do whilst visiting Fiordland.”

A welfare hub was established in Te Anau which Ms Peacock believed would remain open through next week.

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