Local Hospo Fears Auckland Will Become a Ghost Town over Summer

According to Hospitality NZ, hotel bookings over the summer period are down 30-70 percent compared to previous years, while restaurants and bars are reporting trade down as much as 80 percent.

As Aucklanders escape a city they have been locked down in for over three months and bookings from outside slow to come in, there are fears the country’s largest city will become a ghost town over summer.

Hospitality NZ chief executive Julie White said her organisation was very concerned the holiday period would be “a fizzer”, and many operators would struggle. She said accommodation members were reporting occupancy level at only 30-60 per cent from late December through to mid-January.

The city’s food and beverage operators were putting the current slow business down to a lack of Christmas parties in the red COVID-19 traffic light setting.

“Some operators are saying they have had group cancellations due to the traffic light settings, for groups where not everyone is vaccinated some are opting to hold their celebrations at home.”

She said the feedback was a timely reminder to politicians, as they headed back to their electorates, that their job was not done.

Viv Beck, chief executive of business association Heart of the City, said bookings across the tourism sector were soft, and the industry hoped for a shift to the orange traffic light next week, which would allow event organisers to plan.

Beck said there were some events on the docket that would help draw tourists, including the Michelangelo – A Different View Exhibition, which allows visitors to see reproductions of the artist's most famous frescoes running at the Aotea Centre during January.

Immediately after the announcement was made that Auckland’s border would open in mid-December airlines and tourism operators reported a boom in bookings.

Air New Zealand reports that on December 15, when Auckland borders open, more than 9,000 people are booked to fly into and out of the city.

The most popular routes were to and from Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington. Air New Zealand was not able to advise whether the majority of bookings were from people leaving Auckland or entering for a visit.