Coronavirus: Tourist hotspots brace for big hits with accommodation, activity cancellations

Queenstown's Mayor is calling for cool heads after false rumours emerged that a coronavirus sufferer was staying at a local hotel.

The tourist hotspot is one of a number of locations bracing for a big hit, with large groups already cancelling accommodation and activities.

With Chinese New Year in full swing and Queenstown full of visitors, travel bans imposed by China are expected to have an impact. 

"The hotspots most affected in New Zealand are obviously Rotorua, Queenstown and Auckland," Amy Robens from the NZ Hotel Owners Association confirmed to Newshub.

The Rees, a Queenstown hotel, was subjected to false rumours claiming a person with coronavirus was staying in their accommodation.

"Let's listen to fact, not rumour. We will react if we need to react," Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said.

With xenophobic comments and anti-visitor discourse making their way around town, Boult is disappointed.

"The people who are here are here. The Chinese government has done the right thing and stopped departures, that's fine. But let's treat the folk who are here in our normal, hospitable fashion," he said. 

Major hotel chains are already seeing large group cancellations across February and March, meaning losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"There's no doubt the Chinese ban is going to have a significant impact on hotel owners, depending on how reliant on the Chinese market they are," Robens said. 

Independent Chinese travellers are also cancelling their stays, directly impacting tourist activities.

"We employ a lot of people and we rely on a lot of Chinese tourists coming in and booking things for Queenstown and the rest of New Zealand," said Laura Clubley from Travel Freedom Queenstown. 

Many current visitors are confident that New Zealand is far enough away from the outbreak.

"We think New Zealand is quite safe," said Chinese tourist Ada Xiao.

Yet a tourist from Hong Kong said his group "have masks in [their] bags" as a precaution.

Tourism operators are keen to ensure that those already here, aren't tempted to leave early.