Two Queenstown-based tourism operators have joined forces in a bid to ensure the industry will survive COVID-19.
Totally Tourism founder Mark Quickfall and Altitude Tours and Black ZQN director Nigel Hobbs are optimistic the region will be reinvigorated in the future and domestic tourism will ramp up as the threat of the coronavirus subsides.
New Zealanders spend $23.7 billion a year on domestic tourism and the Queenstown Lakes District is well-placed to welcome Kiwis needing a holiday once the country is deescalated to Level One on the COVID-19 alert system.
Mark says although the coronavirus has presented extraordinary challenges for Queenstown, the tourism industry is resilient and many operators are coming up with creative ways to implement health and physical distancing measures to ensure the ongoing safety of visitors and the survival of local tourism businesses.
"Queenstown and tourism is certainly not out for the count and many companies here are planning to reset and tailor offerings specifically to the Kiwi market," he says.
"Tourism has been the backbone of Queenstown and New Zealand for many decades and, whilst this current crisis seems insurmountable, we have been here before; the 1987 share market crash, 1997 Asian financial crisis, 9/11, SARs and the Global Financial Crisis. All of these events challenged the town but we bounced back."
Both Totally Tourism and Altitude Tours/Black ZQN will be investing in domestic marketing campaigns later this year to entice Kiwis to Queenstown once restrictions on recreational travel have lifted.
"COVID-19 has been a major setback for us but I’m confident that we will come out of it better and stronger," says Nigel.
"Kiwis love to explore – as a nation we spent approximately $6.5 billion on international travel last year.
"Now that overseas holidays are off the cards for the time being, I think Queenstown will see an influx of domestic tourists wanting a world-class experience in their own backyard."
New Zealanders can expect to benefit from heavily discounted rates on accommodation, activities and tours as a sweetener to visit areas such as Queenstown, Wanaka, Mount Cook, West Coast and Fiordland.
Totally Tourism’s The Helicopter Line operates scenic helicopter flights in Queenstown, Mount Cook, and at Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, heli-skiing, heli-hikes, Milford Sound Scenic Flights and Mitre Peak Cruises, while Altitude Tours and Black ZQN specialise in bespoke sightseeing tours, private charters and luxury experiences in the lower South Island.
"Our ambition is to reward New Zealanders when they come out of their bubbles with specials and incentives and give them an opportunity to experience heli-hiking on the Tasman Glacier, or land on the Franz Josef Glacier or cruise Milford Sound," adds Mark.
"Kiwi families that may have traditionally booked a trip to the Gold Coast will now choose to head south and this is a very heartening prospect."
"We are all working incredibly hard to hold on to jobs and ensure our operations get through COVID-10,"says Nigel. "What we are seeing so far from the NZ public is that there is a strong feeling of solidarity and a desire to support our country and get it moving again. When it does, we’ll be here."