Tour companies specialising in trips to China are snowed under helping customers reschedule their bookings to the coronavirus-hit country.
Multiple tour operators contacted by the Herald today didn't want to be named but said the deadly virus was having a heavy impact on their business.
Nearly all said they were too busy to chat because their staff were on the phones or working face-to-face with customers on refunds and trip changes.
Major travel agency Flight Centre was among those which dropped all planned tours to China until April 2020.
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Reports have also emerged of Chinese tourists being stranded in New Zealand due to a lack of flights out of the country.
It comes as inbound tourism into New Zealand is expected to be hit even harder after China banned all Chinese travel groups from leaving the country in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
New Zealand yesterday also announced it would block foreigners, who leave or transit through mainland China after February 2, from entering New Zealand.
The travel restrictions have left travel agents with their hands full.
"At this moment we are extremely busy, sorry we are all on the phone, we have clients here because many customers have to issue a change of schedule," one China specialist agent said.
"I'm working by myself today and I'm too busy - we've got so many refunds," another agent said.
However, Yu Li from the NZ China Travel Service said his agency was still "quite busy" taking bookings and organising trips.
"Normally, we just serve local Chinese people, they have permanent resident visas and so can still come in or are leaving and going on other trips," he said.
The escalating crisis has left bean counters scrambling to calculate the financial fallout for tourism.
More than 400,000 Chinese visit New Zealand each year, most on holiday, and they spend over $1.5 billion, making them the second biggest market behind Australia.
Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said an estimated 9000 trips had so far been cancelled in February.
While sharp, it was ''not devastating'' as this country had 420,000 overseas visitors in February last year.
He tipped that Chinese visitor arrivals would be down 40 per cent over the next three months, which would amount to a 5 per cent reduction in total arrivals for the quarter.
NZ Chinese Travel and Tourism Association chair Simon Cheung hoped the interruption would be as short as possible.
"Everyone is suffering, every business, but there is nothing much me or you or the Government can do," he said.
He said that while it would be quiet for this month at least, Chinese tourists were still keen to come to New Zealand.
"We've got a lot of clients who are rescheduling, they're just waiting for the green light," he said.
"As soon as they are told they can fly, they will come."
Cheung also said companies were starting to have situations where some Chinese tourists were getting stranded in New Zealand.
This was due to the lack of flights back to China, and the difficulty of transiting through other countries, due to travel restrictions for those who had been in China recently.
Queenstown mayor Jim Boult earlier said the timing of the outbreak over the Chinese New Year couldn't have been worse, but that tourism was a resilient industry and would rebound.
Chinese tourists spent more than $220 million in the Queenstown Lakes District in the year to October, RNZ reported.
Victoria Courtney, head of product at Flight Centre, also earlier told RNZ the company had cancelled or tours to China until at least April.
"Our advice at this stage ... is to come in, talk to your travel consultant and we will re-accommodate people," she told the broadcaster.
She said wherever possible the company and its partners were working to postpone or reschedule trips if that's what customers wanted.
Air New Zealand has joined other international airlines by announcing it would suspend its Auckland-Shanghai service from this Sunday until March 29.