Some men on a stag do caused more than $4000 worth of damage when they trashed a newly revamped five-star waterfront hostel already struggling because of Covid-19, the hostel owner says.
Wanderlust NZ owner Sarah Meadows said the situation was "heartbreaking".
Meadows said she and her husband Matt Young spent most of 2020 renovating the hostel and heritage building on The Strand in Tauranga into a Qualmark five-star accommodation, and opened their newly painted doors in October.
They've since been forced to cater mostly to Kiwis in the absence of international tourism due to Covid-19. As part of that domestic shift, she said Wanderlust NZ accepted a booking of 20 men celebrating a stag night last Saturday.
Some members of the group caused the most damage in Meadows' 17 years in the business, she said.
The fire extinguisher was let off in two rooms and down the length of the hallway, a door was kicked in, a storage container was urinated in, alcohol spilt on the walls and floors, picture and door frames broken, a plant ruined and holes put in the newly painted walls, she said.
Meadows said three rooms had been left out of action while being urgently repaired back to a five-star standard. The lack of sales from these was money the business desperately needed in what had become extremely hard times, she said.
"To say that we are upset is an understatement."
Meadows said she believed use of the fire extinguisher was premeditated, as video footage showed one of the men removing it about 4pm only for it to be used later that evening.
"New Zealanders get cross at international people damaging or pooing in our backyard but actually, people need to take a real good look at their own behaviour and set examples.
"These were ... men; people who should've known better."
The damage came at a point when the youth adventure tourism market was already "bleeding" because of Covid, Meadows said.
"We should be 100 per cent full now, up until June. That's normally how it works. Now we are 40 per cent full. So how does that look for June, July and onwards?
"Our industry is hurting. There are pockets of tourism doing great but the reality for us is that it's extremely hard. We have to fight for every booking. People need to understand what the hell we've been through in the last year."
Meadows said she would like to see more support for businesses such as her's and she would like to see more events held in Tauranga to draw people into the city. Even then, she was aware of local residents often dissuading people from visiting the CBD in favour of the Mount, she said.
"We just need local buy-in, local people to invest in hanging out and shopping here and telling their friends."
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said Wanderlust NZ was a vibrant and versatile addition to the CBD, which had helped energise the area. It was "disappointing" their hospitality and respect was not returned in the stag-night incident.
She acknowledged Meadows' frustration at the shift in the market, saying many tourism businesses that had focused on the international market were hit hard by the impacts of Covid and were nervous about their future.
The wage subsidies of 2020 helped tourism businesses. However, with other countries still challenged with Covid and no clarity around when New Zealand's borders may reopen, there was significant uncertainty in the sector, she said.
"We are very aware of this and are liaising with central Government to continue advocating for industry support."
Dunne applauded the Wanderlust NZ team's dedication to the local tourism industry and restoration project.
"Their achievement in such trying times is no mean feat."
Tourism Bay of Plenty had helped to support Wanderlust NZ in the "pivot" to the domestic market, including offering a digital industry adviser to increase their digital footprint, Dunne said.
Since Covid arrived in New Zealand, Tourism Bay of Plenty has developed a multi-stage plan to support local tourism in each alert level, including Wanderlust NZ.
Last year, Tourism Bay of Plenty also launched the No Place Like Home campaign; took part on a collaborative campaign with five other regions; and launched a national campaign Sure to Make You Smile - all to encourage Kiwis to visit regions such as the Bay.
On Tuesday, Hotel Data New Zealand revealed figures showing hotel room revenue plunged by more than 40 per cent, as room occupancy remains half of what it was last year.
For four years leading up to 2020, average hotel occupancy had been around 80 per cent - until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and borders were closed.
This week, Hospitality New Zealand accommodation sector Bay of Plenty chairman and 850 Cameron Motel owner Tony Bullot said the holiday season had been favourable so far but there were concerns at what lay ahead from next month.