New Zealand ski fields have been hit by cancellations following the pause on the transtasman bubble, right as they were expecting an influx of Australian visitors during the school holidays.
NZ Ski, which operates Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables, has had numerous cancellations following the announcement, which CEO Paul Anderson describes as "a real blow" for the industry and the communities impacted by it.
"Australia makes up a large portion of our visitors so we are gutted that the borders have closed, especially right at the start of the Australian school holidays," he said.
"It's a real blow not only for us but the whole community, but we were prepared for pauses to the bubble and understand the health approach that is being taken."
According to Anderson, the July bookings for the three ski fields were "looking really strong" but a lot of them have been cancelled. NZ Ski is encouraging people to rebook for later in the season.
"We have staffed up this year knowing Australians were back in the mix and that New Zealand school holidays were going to be busy again, so we will be spreading hours out among the team.
Bridget Legnavsky, general manager for Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone Ski Area, says the pause on the bubble has led to a "big 30 per cent drop" in the expected number of visitors to the ski fields.
"This season we have had to resource and plan as if the Australian bubble is open so we are resourcing 100 per cent, in terms of what we're opening, staffing, etc. This is different to last year, when we prepared only for a domestic market," she said.
"The concern for us is how we hold onto that resource. It's a really tough one," she added.
"We were expecting Australian visitors to arrive this weekend and obviously that didn't happen.
Despite the drop in numbers, Legnavsky is relieved that the region remains at alert level 1 and able to operate and adds that the cancellations from the transtasman bubble are not as bad as the "worst-case scenario" of an outbreak of Covid-19 in the region.
Before the Covid pandemic, Australians represented about a third of those on the slopes at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone Ski Area with half of those from New South Wales.
"We're still open and welcoming our domestic visitors," the GM added, encouraging Kiwi travellers to experience the slopes.