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Cycle trails to play a leading role in domestic tourism recovery

As the domestic market make preparations to return to tourism activities, cycle trails are set to play a leading role in the recovery of the tourism industry.

The last six weeks have seen a spike in bike sales and cycling activity all across New Zealand, highlighting the popularity of the activity and also potentially presenting an entirely new market who will be interested in cycling New Zealand trails.

CEO of Cycle Journeys Geoff Gabites, who offer complete self-guided cycling experiences on three of New Zealand’s great cycle trails, says cycle trails will hold great appeal to Kiwis.

"Leading up to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Kiwis represented approximately 85 per cent of the riders on our trails. In the last six to 10 years since these trails opened, they have always proudly been a Kiwi product priced by and for the Kiwi market."

The strong growth in the industry, pre 2020, meant New Zealand cycle trails played a major role in economic development particularly in rural regions and delivered huge financial benefit to small rural communities. Cycle Journeys’ Twizel operation on the Alps 2 Ocean trail alone, contributes in excess of $400,000 per annum through wages and rent, whilst employing more than 25 locals.

Geoff is positive that the strong industry growth seen pre COVID-19, which encouraged many new businesses to be established, highlights Kiwi’s passion for trail riding and this love affair will continue and even escalate now a date to lift domestic travel restrictions has been announced.

"We survey all our riders and 85-90 per cent of them reported that riding the trails was the reason for coming to the area. Clearly trails are a key driver of the tourism market, and we are convinced they will be a significant driver of the recovery moving forward," he says.

Although like other operators, Cycle Journeys were forced to close their season six weeks early – over 500 existing bookings were transferred to the next season. Add this to the forward bookings already in place for the next season, as well as the enquiries received during lockdown, and the numbers look strong.

"During the lock down, we still received multiple enquiries asking when they could return to trails. Literally with 10 minutes of the Government announcement as to what Level 2 could look like, we had received five booking enquiries," says Geoff.

"While there will be new challenges this coming season, we firmly believe in New Zealanders passion to support local and a strong season will be of huge economic benefit to tourism industry right across New Zealand. With the reported backlog of bookings carried over, a strong growth and interest in cycling and a possible opening of an Australian bubble, there is strong potential for some trails to sell out."

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