Queenstown tourism suffering due to coronavirus outbreak

A drop off in Chinese visitors has started to hit bottom lines with some tourism operators losing up to 25 percent of their business in peak season.       

February usually sees Queenstown's Nomad Safaris taking Chinese tourists through some of our most beautiful landscapes. 

But the outbreak of coronavirus has caused a drop in Chinese tourism as China locks down to deal with the disease. Their absence has been noticed.

"They would be getting onto 25 percent of our business for February, so it's a big hole," said David Gatward-Ferguson from Nomad Tours.

It's burning a hole in the pockets of many other businesses too.

Retail New Zealand says some retailers dependent on international visitors are experiencing a drop in sales of up to 30 percent in recent weeks.

Economist Michael Reddell says the Reserve Bank should have cut the official cash rate (OCR) as it did in response to other global emergencies like the 9/11 attacks.

"What it will do is lower interest rates to some extent and provide some stimulus to domestic demand," he told Newshub.

"In the domestic economy, it will also tend to lower the exchange rate and that will increase the returns to those who are exporting."

On Wednesday the Reserve Bank announced it has kept the OCR at 1 percent.  

It assumes the overall economic impact of the coronavirus will be short and mostly felt in the first half of this year with a 0.3 percentage point hit to GDP in the first quarter. 

Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr says the bank will be able to adapt if the situation changes.

"There is a risk that the impact will be larger and more persistent. Monetary policy has time to adjust if needed as more information becomes available," said Orr. 

As for tourism operators, his advice is to diversify. 

"All tourism operators should have more than one market so think hard about how you can divert into the domestic market and or other markets."

For now, Gatward-Ferguson says he hopes things get better rather than worse.

"We're not insulated we don't have lots of cash for such eventualities."