It may feel like you are locked-down forever, but at some stage the Government will allow us all to travel again - once this Covid-19 scare has finally abated. Kiwis will be desperate to move out of isolation.
Many people, after weeks at home without an income, will have spent any money they had, and will just be trying to work and re-fill their piggy bank. The numbers of people able to afford any travel will have dwindled, but for those who still have some ability to travel, getting around their own country will be a really desirable activity to put the virus behind them.
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What better time to be working on a local travel promotion than during this lockdown period? A domestic marketing plan must be developed over the next two months and then rolled out once light is seen near the end of this tunnel. Not only is promotion needed to motivate Kiwis to begin travelling again, but also to re-invigorate tourism operators - those thousands of little businesses currently closed - to prepare to host visitors again.
Over the last few years the elephant in the NZ tourism room has been the accelerating over-stressing of NZ's environment. Kiwis are frustrated by the way visitors are treating our environment. What sort of visitors do we want? Is it just bums in jetboat seats, or is it people who will add value while enjoying our country and our people?
Should we accept just a few wealthy individuals who can pour a lot of money into exclusive resorts - or do we support the Kiwi ethos that everyone should be able to enjoy our country no matter the amount of money they can spend? Do we really want campervans without toilets or with silly little toilets they cannot and do not use? And, as for freedom campers?
When people do get back to work again, what permanent changes will have been made to the way they work? Remote working will have become entrenched in our system, so there will be less business travel, fewer hotel rooms, fewer restaurants and cafes.
Add the "carbon footprint" issue that had already begun to dog long haul flights.
Businesses will continue using conference calls instead of travelling overseas. Will companies continue travelling here to attend conferences? Is it a good idea for every NZ city to have a conference facility? Has Wellington thought through the need for its under-construction conference centre? Will this be a white elephant like the overseas terminal built for cruise ships just before air travel took over from ships in the 60s?
I'm guessing virtual reality tourism will become a major industry within a few years, enabled by 5G: Visit NZ without leaving home. Should we be concentrating on guaranteeing our pristine environment rather than allowing more and more visitors to trample it?
For some time, New Zealand has needed an organisation to manage tourists, both Kiwis and overseas visitors once they are within NZ. This body would work with local authorities, DOC, and Government to get the best results for NZ and tourists alike.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) is the umbrella organisation representing the many individual tourism operator members within NZ and does that well. TIA works with its members' interests in mind, so it is not the ideal body to take this inside-NZ marketing role; but it is the only organisation that currently exists and must, of course, be involved.
This new organisation would have the job of managing the visitor numbers to spread them around the regions; to manage the provision of public facilities; to educate on road safety, cleanliness, etc. What better use for the easily accessible Regional Development Fund? Tourism provides great first-entry jobs for the regions.
There is an immediate need for, and an opportune downtime, to set up such a body.
This needs a small group of enthusiastic people to set up, name, and progress the organisation. The organisation needs the blessing of both Central and Local Government, DOC, and Tourism NZ (TNZ). And it will, of course, need funding: I suggest seed funding from the Provincial Growth Fund followed by an application for government funding similar to TNZ.
Tourism NZ carries out the marketing of NZ internationally and does it very well. TNZ will need to carry out a lot of preparation before Covid-19 has been managed, and then, once the virus becomes background noise, to lift international tourism back into its premium position in NZ's economy.
I'm sure TNZ is thinking along similar lines. Airlines - those remaining after this commercial disaster, and some minor new ones maybe - will be vying to get planes back in the air and they will probably be offering deals to re-introduce overseas tourists to NZ long-haul, but this will take time to introduce products and fill planes. Let's concentrate on getting Kiwis out into their backyard.
• Kerry Prendergast is deputy chairwoman of the NZ Conservation Authority, a former chairwoman of Tourism NZ and a previous vice-president of Local Government NZ.