You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the country’s hospitality operators as we moved into Alert Level 1. Gathering restrictions have been removed and all current COVID-19 rules on businesses and services have lifted.
The move to Level 1 means that many hospitality operators can now begin to reclaim a sense of normality and this will provide customers the much-needed confidence to go out and safely socialise (and spend) again.
Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive, Julie White, says our team of five million should be proud of the significant achievement we’ve made in getting to no active COVID-19 cases.
“The hospitality sector has also shown incredible resilience throughout this difficult time banding together to ensure that the health and safety of our communities remains paramount,” she says.
“They’ve been forced to adapt to different ways of operating as each level has decreased, and the restrictions that hospitality operators (and their customers) have had to wrestle with have been incredibly challenging – so, we’re very excited to be getting back to business.”
Hospitality New Zealand expects that with restrictions such as social distancing and table service restraints lifted, businesses in the hospitality and accommodation sectors will start to recover and slowly return, over time, to profitability.
While some accommodation providers and leisure hotspots saw a return to normal visitor and occupancy levels over Queen’s Birthday weekend, the following day’s return saw a huge dip – with a mere five percent occupancy rate in the accommodation sector, demonstrating the long road ahead to recovery.
The full year forecast predicts 30 percent occupancy (at best) for accommodation and hotel providers.
Similarly, the challenges of COVID-19 have also led to a 30 percent reduction in employment across the hospitality sector.
While the recently announced changes to the Wage Subsidy extension is expected to assist an additional 40,000 businesses across the country, this alone won’t be enough to save many operators, Julie says.
If you’re financially able to, perhaps it’s time to consider taking a domestic ‘Staycation’ (booked through a local travel agent, of course!), heading out for a much-needed date night at a local restaurant and grabbing some gift vouchers from your favourite venues so you can share the love!
“The hospitality sector relies on people – tourists, office workers, social gatherings and foot traffic,” Julie says.
“With Kiwis now encouraged to go back to their workplaces, this presents a huge opportunity for people to support their local hospitality businesses.
“As a nation, we’ve shown solidarity and performed incredibly well to fight this health crisis.
With the transition to Level 1, we can all step up and play our part in supporting the full recovery of Kiwi businesses which have been hit so hard.”