Neil Jamieson has been telling tourists how great New Zealand is for years and now, post Covid-19 lockdown, he is having to showcase the country to its own people.

The owner and operator of Bethlehem Coachlines plans to roll out a brand new programme focusing more on local attractions now the borders are closed.

"Covid knocked our income by about half," Jamieson said. "It was pretty hard."

Neil Jamieson, owner of Bethlehem Coachlines, believes in supporting local businesses. Photo / George Novak
Neil Jamieson, owner of Bethlehem Coachlines, believes in supporting local businesses. Photo / George Novak

Jamieson said his company lost about 20 per cent of business from the cruise ships, which he said would have an effect on many local bus operators.


"So we are putting together other trips as part of the new normal and showing people New Zealand."

That included new tours and day trips to the Hamilton Gardens and Waiheke Island for example.

"It's places that people probably haven't been for a long time ... to keep our staff and vehicles ticking away," he said.

"When we picked up our overseas travellers we go on about how great our country is but a lot of us haven't seen our own country.

"It is an opportunity to prove it to our own people that we have a wonderful country."

As part of changing up their normal business, the company is also supporting the re-start of sports and The Chiefs rugby team.

Jamieson said Bethlehem Coachlines had dropped the ticket price by about 20 per cent to get Tauranga rugby fans to Hamilton for the Chiefs' home games.

He said helping to fill the grandstands supported both his business and the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union. Supporting local businesses would help stimulate the economy.


"The real importance is Covid has cost the country a lot of money and that money has to come back from somewhere. It is about supporting the country and keeping people in jobs."

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said Bethlehem Coachlines' initiative was a "fantastic" example of pivoting a business to make the most of an opportunity in the market.

"Many tourism businesses have shown such grit, ingenuity and creativity amid the devastating impacts of Covid-19.

"I encourage locals to get out and make the most of their backyard and support local."