Queenstown’s Hospitality and Tourism Sector’s Devastated by Omicron

With 20 percent less visitors to the usual tourist-hotspot compared to this time last year, Queenstown’s hospitality and tourism owners are running out of patience waiting for the border to open to international visitors.

The decrease in visitor numbers compared to March 2021 are despite the lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau last year which left Aucklanders unable to make their way down south.

Omicron has had a devastating effect on the Otago town’s hospitality and tourism venues, and some businesses have had to close their doors, unable to hold on for the arrival of overseas visitors any longer.

Some of the town’s usually packed and popular bars, restaurants and pubs have temporarily stopped trading while waiting on a border announcement from the Government.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ruth Stokes said the border opening didn’t just affect tourism and hospitality, but all industries in Queenstown who rely on migrant workers and overseas consumers.

“Without any certainty around what is happening in terms of those dates, we are certainly hearing that, anecdotally, liquidations are increasing.”

According to the Government’s current phased border reopening plan, the border will open to all visitors from October.

Destination Queenstown marketing and communications manager Sarah O’Donnell said there were a multitude of reasons visitor numbers were at an all-time low. No international visitors was one of them, but domestic tourism was also at its quietest.

“It has been an incredibly challenging two years for the tourism industry, but... we are hopeful that travel confidence will re-emerge over the coming weeks as the Omicron peak eases.”