West Coast's plea to Government: Make the trans-Tasman bubble happen

One of the destinations that's no longer on Air New Zealand's flight schedule is Hokitika.

The South Island's West Coast is desperate for trans-Tasman travel to kick back into gear and tourism operators say it will be critical for their survival.

The main street of Hokitika on a Saturday morning during lockdown level 3 is currently quiet and devoid of tourists. Businesses in this West Coast town are hurting

"As the 12-week subsidy races to an end there are a number of businesses now talking to their staff about the future or if there is a future," Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith says.

Tourism operators up and down the Coast are feeling the pinch.

Ngai Tahu Tourism plans to mothball several operations including Franz Josef Glacier Guides and the Franz Josef Hot pools.

Logan Skinner owns the Terrace Motel on the main street.

"It's been mentally tough," he says.

Up to 90 percent of the Fox and Franz population is employed in tourism and operators hope Kiwis will choose to visit when we move to level 2.

"It's very critical for us to move into level 2 and be able to travel through the regions and if that doesn't happen we are going to be in pain for a long time," Westland District Councillor Ian Hartshorne says.

But domestic tourism won't be enough to fill the void. Skinner says the establishment of a trans-Tasman bubble will be critical for businesses like his to stay afloat.

"Domestic tourism is very important. That helps keep jobs and save jobs and keep businesses ticking over but we do need the bubble with Australia long-term," he says.

A plea from the West Coast to Wellington on Saturday night - make the trans-Tasman bubble happen, businesses and livelihoods depend on it.

 

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