Its Borders Shut, New Zealand Prods Native Vacationers to ‘Do One thing New’

Nadine Toe Toe and her family run the Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours in Murupara, a northeastern village of about 2,000 people, about 90% of whom are Maori. Prior to the pandemic, about 98% of the company’s customers came from abroad.

UPDATED

Apr. 5, 2021, 1:25 am ET

“We wanted to create a really real, true, cultural experience that shows our history, but also our reality,” said Toe Toe, 43. “When Covid hit and we lost all our work overnight, we were suddenly confronted with the fact that the domestic market does not make ‘cultural products’ – it is not on the list of priorities.”

To attract local visitors, the business had to change its name, he said. This meant moving away from providing an exciting experience of modern Maori culture that many young people in New Zealand may already think they know well.

“Before Covid, it was always our first culture – that we can proudly stand there and tell the world who we are, where we are from, because it is important to be Maori,” he said. “We are no longer an experience of cultural tourism. We are now an accommodation by the lake. “

Larger companies are also struggling. “We are suffering, there is no doubt about it,” said Sir John Davies, 79, a businessman who owns several ski runs, guided walks on Routeburn and Milford trails and the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook National Park.

Recently, he said, the Hermitage had 20 visitors, down from about 600 in a typical year. He had to reduce the hotel staff from 230 to less than 50. “It fell over $ 18,000 yesterday – the lowest I’ve ever seen in 25 years,” he said. “We do everything we can to make domestic tourists. I mean, we always have. “

Tourist destinations around the world, from New York to the Himalayas, have struggled without seeing dollars. In Bali, Indonesia’s holiday destination, some hospitality workers have returned to agriculture. Some places, such as Istanbul, tried to mobilize. Others, like Hawaii, open up nervously.

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