Coronavirus: Pressure mounting on Government to open trans-Tasman bubble soon to save tourism businesses

The pressure is being piled on the Government to open a travel bubble with Australia soon to help save tourism and hospitality businesses.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to announce a date on Tuesday for when a bubble will open.

With a possible $1 billion injection to our economy this year if a bubble opens, operators are desperate to get a piece of that profit.

Hospitality NZ CEO Julie White says they need that money.

"We really need this injection. We're going to go from a team of 5 million to a team of 30 million," she says.

She's desperate for the border to open up soon.

"We can't be the bridesmaid, we can't be left at the altar so to speak. So we really need to open the border to Australia and we need to open it really soon," White says.

Australians tend to spend twice as much as a Kiwi does locally, and it adds up.

"We think between now and the end of the calendar year it could be up to a billion dollars and maybe even more for the remainder of 2021," says René de Monchy, Tourism NZ interim CEO.

Tourism New Zealand says those dollars will feed into many different businesses.

"Accommodation, transport, tourism activities, but there's also secondary and tertiary benefits - cafes, retail, petrol stations," de Monchy says.

For the West Coast and glacier country, it could mean a jumpstart for the community.

"Our essential services, like volunteer fire service, we'll increase our rolls in schools," says Richard Benton, Glacier Country Tourism Group co-chairperson.

"And all those people who work to help support our tourism businesses, their jobs will be saved."

Which could alleviate some huge stresses.

"Twenty-five percent of our population is left and 65 percent of jobs have been lost," Benton says.

Air New Zealand says it's in preparation mode and has welcomed back and retrained more than 300 cabin crew, and brought back airport staff and ground handlers in Australia.

Coronavirus: Pressure mounting on Government to open trans-Tasman bubble soon to save tourism businesses
Photo credit: Getty Images

Tourism New Zealand says the first batch of visitors here will likely be people visiting family, before broadening out to those looking for a getaway in our tourism hotspots.

"People coming over for a week or ten days will probably return, but there will be some that have felt a bit locked up over the past 12 months that may go, 'right I'm going to come for longer and make those bookings'," de Monchy says.

David Brennan, who pivoted with his business partner from offering an expensive traditional Māori experience to cater to the domestic market's lower price point, says it's helped his business get by, but only just. He opened Waka on Avon in October last year but says it's been a difficult time.

"Horrible, tough. Really, really tough," he says.

He says he's had lots of support from locals, but only operating on weekends isn't cutting it. 

Tuesday's bubble announcement will provide some confidence.

"It's the bridge between now and staying alive. Apart from that, it's quite dark."