Fiordland businesses struggling with tourism ban

The travel ban on Chinese tourists due to the coronavirus outbreak has already had a serious effect on tourism in Fiordland. 

This is the second time this year the area has had to manage without tourists, the first was when Milford Road was wiped out for a fortnight earlier this month due to a storm.

Now many businesses are struggling to keep the doors open.

Maria Klein from Te Anau's "Naturally Fiordland" cafe has had to lay off staff, reduce cafe hours and takings are down 50 percent.

"There's nobody here and we have an empty restaurant," she told Newshub.

She said this time of year is normally one of the best times for business with Chinese customers but now they are struggling to keep the doors open.

"The streets are empty you see in both directions just a few people walking around normally at this time of year there's more people here and outside enjoying the holidays."

The manager of Destination Fiordland Madeleine Peacock agreed.

"We have really been hit hard by the weather event but also the cancellations that came about because of Coronavirus and we'll continue to see the impact of cancellations due to Coronavirus."

Another business owner Noel Walker from Kiwi Country in Te Anau said he's worried what the months ahead may bring.  

"At the moment it's only the visitors from Mainland China who can't come in as the virus continues to spread if other nationalities become a bit more cautious that will no doubt have a flow-on effect to the industry in New Zealand."

Tourism New Zealand says China makes up 15 percent of visitors to New Zealand each year.

Since the travel ban came into effect there's been a push to attract more visitors from Australia this coming winter, as well as the UK and Europe 

Stephen England Hall the Tourism NZ CEO said: "Its become very important for us to build momentum going into next season so between those two things we should be able to mitigate some of the impact of the downturn but obviously not today noot right now it'll take a while for that to come into effect".

But Maria Klein says this won't make up for the tough February.