Tourist towns across New Zealand are feeling the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.

None more so than Taupō, where some local businesses are battling for survival. But despite the downturn, the town's mayor remains optimistic.

"Just two weeks, hang in there, we're gonna bounce back really good," said Mayor David Trewavas.

"Dare I say it, my friends down in Queenstown - 98 per cent of one income stream is from tourism. We've got four: forestry, geothermal, agriculture and tourism - and a lot of that tourism is domestic.


"We're gonna rebound real quick, it's just a matter of being able to hold off, please!"

Business owner Chris Johnston is involved with a number of local eateries. He says it took a while to fully understand the impact the lockdown would have.

"It was surreal, because it was so sudden," Johnston said.

"Most of us were quite comfortable when it actually was put into place, because the severity of the problem was starting to rear its head very fast. We were looking at what was happening in Italy.

"For me, the Sunday was tough because a business of 27 years suddenly had to shut, with no ... well the future was uncertain.

"But then the reality was that it was every business, in every town, in every country."

Johnston says that a heavy reliance on tourism has left the town vulnerable, with a CBD that's now far too big for the demand.

"It's up to the other businesses to spend locally, I read a comment the other day that one in two hospo businesses will close in New Zealand," Johnston said.


"There's 3.9 million tourists not coming in the foreseeable future, it's simple economics. If the business isn't there, the businesses become untenable."

Other Taupō businesses feel lucky, saying fixed costs are far less in Taupō than in the same industry in Auckland, meaning the lack of business is affecting them far less.

"If you can buy local, support that salesman, support that boutique shop, they're gonna be reasonable in prices, please buy local," Trewavas said.

"You're gonna keep those locals employed."

"As a council, we are tendering policy. We had a 5-10 per cent weighting for local contractors. We've now increased that to 15-20 per cent, when we go up for tender. So a local contractor will have a 20 per cent advantage, when he/she puts a price into any of our products."

Holiday accommodation providers are also feeling the pinch. Among them is global giant Airbnb.

"The impact hit us prior to lockdown actually happening," Ellie Knight of Taupō Airbnb said.

"That Saturday afternoon when Jacinda first announced the travel restrictions, within 48 hours we had over $100,000 of cancelled bookings."

The company has responded to the changing market, offering international guests a place to hunker down during the lockdown.

"A lot of international tourists were travelling two days in one place, then two days in the next.

"We held conversations with those guests that were with us in that two-week period to ask them where they were going next? Did they feel like they needed to change their plans and go home early?

"We've got some elderly guests from the UK and from the States, that did not want to travel home. They've very gratefully been able to extend their visas. We've arranged accommodation for the rest of their stay at a weekly, reasonable rate," she said.

"Luckily, a lot of our tourism product here, is still 70-80 per cent supported by the domestic economy," Trewavas said.

"People love to come to Taupō and it's district because that's just what they did years ago with their mum and dad. So we're in a fortunate position of rebouncing pretty quickly out of this."

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