Tourism sector records demand from international travelers and calls for relaxation of visa regulations

An operator of luxury hotels in Auckland says high-end tourists already have reservations in place in hopes New Zealand will reopen its borders soon.

The 195-room Park Hyatt on the city’s waterfront has relied on domestic weekend travelers and the wage subsidy to stay afloat for the past 12 months.

Park Hyatt general manager Brett Sweetman said while it had been difficult for the area, he could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Park Hyatt on the Auckland waterfront.

Brook Sabin / Stuff

Park Hyatt on the Auckland waterfront.

“We took reservations even earlier this year for the fourth quarter of this year, which is now. We just had to bring those reservations back to the first or second quarter of next year, everyone anticipates the reopening of borders but demand is enormous internationally.

“New Zealand was a real destination for international guests, especially from South East Asia and Americans, before Covid, and we will certainly bounce back into a strong position once we bounce back and everyone will be vaccinated. “

Sweetman said strong demand for next year meant the government would have to think about easing visa restrictions for the hospitality industry.

“We really want the government to give us a little more slack or a little more forward-thinking when it comes to visa regulations for the hospitality industry.

“Given the numbers, we are forecasting next year and the growing demand that we see for tourism in New Zealand… we need to bring in these foreign workers,” he said.

Sweetman said if the blockades and border restrictions persisted, it would be “crippling” for the industry.

“Many operators across New Zealand, from independent restaurants to large-scale luxury hotels like mine, we rely on these international customers.

“If we don’t get [guests], it’s not long since we can continue to stand still. “

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