NZ’s tourist hotspots struggle amid Covid-19

New Zealand’s key tourism destinations — Queenstown, Rotorua and Auckland had some of the largest drops in filled jobs in the September 2020 quarter in the wake of Covid-19, the statistics department Stats NZ said on Wednesday.

Tourism, as New Zealand’s biggest export industry contributing 20.4 per cent of total exports, directly employed 8.4 per cent of the New Zealand workforce before Covid-19, Xinhua reported.

Tourism generates a direct annual contribution to GDP of 16.2 billion New Zealand dollars (11.4 billion US dollars), or 5.8 per cent, and a further indirect contribution of 11.2 billion New Zealand dollars (7.9 billion US dollars), another 4 per cent of New Zealand’s total GDP, according to Stats NZ.

Queenstown-Lakes district had 1,155 fewer jobs in the September 2020 quarter than in the same period last year – a 5.3 per cent decrease.

Jobs filled in Rotorua district decreased by 1.1 per cent (329 jobs). Auckland experienced Level 3 lockdown restrictions in August and had a 0.4 per cent fall (3,186 jobs) in the September 2020 quarter.

Filled jobs also fell by 2.9 per cent (108 jobs) in Waitomo district and by 2.7 per cent (142 jobs) in Ruapehu district.

“The falls in these popular tourist destinations coincided with the wage subsidies finishing and COVID-19 border restrictions interrupting international tourism,” Stats NZ’s business insights manager Sue Chapman said.

Stats NZ said earlier that border restrictions are cutting a swathe through international visitor arrivals which showed a record drop of 1.4 million from April to September 2020.

Overseas visitor arrivals were down by 253,200 to 8,600 in September 2020, compared with September 2019. The biggest changes were in arrivals from Australia (down 128,500) and China (down 27,300).

“These decreases are part of an overall weaker picture for both filled jobs and gross earnings across a number of industries, since the onset of Covid-19,” Chapman said.