Disappointment at Government's self-isolation requirement as tourism business struggle on

Struggling Kiwi tourism businesses are disappointed by the border announcement.

They're not happy about the self-isolation requirement and the mayor of our tourism capital is calling it "a killer".

Glacier country is one of the most spectacular tourist attractions of the South Island.

It was welcoming up to 6000 tourists a day - until COVID hit.

"Incredibly challenging to try and keep the business operating with no internationals," Fox Guides CEO Rob Jewell says.

Tourism providers on the West Coast have been hanging on by a thread waiting for the borders to reopen. On Wednesday the future became clearer.

"Finally a date we've been waiting for what seems an eternity to give us some assurity about what's happening and going forward," Jewell says.

But the desire to return to normal hasn't resulted in a rush on vaccinations here. Around 900 Coasters are yet to receive their first vaccine dose.

"We're getting down to the hard-to-reach now we are hearing the anti-Government sentiment and a lot of push back from the people who just aren't into it," Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson says.

When the race to 90 percent began, the West Coast was in pole position - needing just 25,000 doses or 2.8 percent of the South Island's eligible population.

But they've been caught and passed by the other four DHBs and are now responsible for 92 percent of the first doses still required.

"Disappointing but not surprising. When they announced the 90 percent rate I said it wouldn't happen. People come to the Coast because they don't want to be told what to do," Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith says.

This is putting them in a precarious place.

"When you look at the geography of the West Coast we do have a small population. We are a small DHB but that population is spread further than any other population in any other region in New Zealand so to reach those people is what takes the effort," West Coast DHB board member Helen Gillespie says.

Further south, Queenstown's vaccine rates are higher but their tourist numbers are just as dire. And they're concerned their appeal will be tainted by the need for seven days' isolation.

"Lovely idea but the seven days in a hotel room is a killer," Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult warns.

He fears a number of businesses won't make it.

"I think we're looking at three to five years' recovery here. Practically every business company here has been mortally affected. The further away from Auckland, you get the worse it gets."

The border reopening date to look forward to but not through rose-tinted glasses.