Record domestic spending high won't make up for lost international business - Tourism NZ

Tourism New Zealand is warning no matter how deep Kiwis dig into their pockets it won't be enough for some tourism operators' survival.

But others have been able to cash in on COVID-19, enjoying their busiest, most-profitable long weekend on record.

Secret Spot co-founder Keith Kolver couldn't be happier, people have been coming from all over the country to visit his hot tubs in Rotorua. 

"Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Hawkes Bay."

"We've enjoyed a very busy weekend," he says.

"The car park's been full, a lot of people coming in for the first time."

The busy weekend not only bolsters business but employment too.

"We've just taken on more staff as we headed into this long weekend and they're going to be carried through into summertime," Kolver says. 

MDA experiences Group Director Takurua Mutu says its the same story next door at Mountain Bike Rotorua. 

"This long weekend has been insane," he says.

"There would have been about 5000 people through our car park that weekend, all going out riding, all going out in the forest."

All helping with their bottom line.

"It's been our busiest weekend on record by far. I think we're up 60 percent on last year which was our biggest year then." 

But while there have been some clear winners it's hit other businesses hard.

Tourism New Zealand CEO Stephen England-Hall says it will be hard for some operators to cater to a domestic market. 

"I think it's difficult for some product providers who are very very targeted towards international markets to make a full pivot to domestic because in some cases it just won't be a product or experience that Kiwis are looking for."

Before COVID-19 hit our shores international visitors injected about $17 billion into our economy each year. Now they're not allowed in and it's left a huge gap that Kiwis may struggle to fill.

"If all the Kiwis who spent their money overseas last year spend it here this year, we're still going to be sort-of three to four billion dollars short," England-Hall says. 

It's that short-fall that will see shortcomings for some, further strengthening the plea from the industry for Kiwis to get out and discover, or rediscover their own backyard.