Backpackers accommodation provider Archies Bunker in Napier has come up with an ingenious plan to survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Archies Bunker is an unornamented Art Deco building, which offers accommodation right in the heart of the Napier Art Deco Precinct.

It is located adjacent to the MTG Hawke's Bay / Te Whare Pupuri Taonga o Te Matau-a-Māui.

Like many Napier businesses, the backpackers relies heavily on a steady stream of international tourists.

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Joshua Masangkay and Mauro Pacella sort props for the detective room. Photo / Warren Buckland
Joshua Masangkay and Mauro Pacella sort props for the detective room. Photo / Warren Buckland

With the borders closed, owners Lynne and Tinaka Stewart came up with a new plan to see their business survive.

"We have decided to reimagine part of our building, and our new service is the growing trend of 'escape rooms'," said Tinaka.

"Napier needs more all-weather activities for whole families, teenagers and adults. It adds more options for tourists and locals, especially when the weather is harsh."

Archies Bunker took advantage of Napier City Council's Business Response Fund, which was set up to help firms get through the pandemic recovery period.

They successfully applied for funding to meet the costs of producing new signage and hosting familiarisation visits for the region's tourism organisations, which will, in turn, promote it to incoming visitors.

NCC's $50,000 funding pool was set up in May to support businesses that have lost income because fewer tourists were coming to Napier and the overall fall in spending caused by Covid-19.

Archies Bunker was successful in being granted funds because their idea met all the requirements of the Response Fund and was a way to offset lost income while also providing a unique offering for Napier.

There will also be benefits to other Napier businesses, such as cafes and restaurants in the surrounding area which could gain from increased foot traffic.

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The backpackers' operators aim to open at least four escape rooms by the July school holidays, but will remain ready to go with their accommodation options once New Zealand's border restrictions are relaxed.

"Budget accommodation like ours is important for Napier to have at the ready for international visitors, but we need to be innovative to get there," said Tinaka.

Applications to the Business Response Fund are still open and other Napier businesses are invited to apply.

It will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The fund will be open until June 15 or until all money has been allocated, whichever comes first. To apply go to www.napier.govt.nz