Rotorua's biggest employer and ratepayer is bracing itself for job losses as occupancies in hotels take a giant nosedive while others have closed, in the wake of Covid-19.
Nationally hotel assets are worth $10 billion and locally experts estimate 60 per cent of its revenue would be gone for the rest of this year - which translates to ''multi-millions of dollars'' - and the recovery could take years.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa Rotorua Hotel Sector chairman and Copthorne Hotel Rotorua general manager Blair Chalmers said about 1000 full and part-time staff were employed in the city.
''Unfortunately, with the decline in revenue that we are suffering, there will inevitably be job losses. Rotorua hotels' market mix is 60 per cent international and 40 per cent domestic over the year.''
But the extent of job losses would be determined by how supportive the domestic market will be to Rotorua, he said.
''The combined TIA Hotels in Rotorua are the largest employer and ratepayer in the Rotorua District. All of our produce is sourced locally, and all of the hotels use local trade staff (electricians, plumbers, refrigeration companies, etc).
''Like all businesses, we are evaluating our business models. How we operate, what services we operate and what services we will be permitted to operate once the lockdown is removed.''
Its major focus was on staff welfare.
''A couple of the hotels are still open – for them, staff safety is paramount as well as ensuring they are operating within the guidelines from the Ministry of Health. The Rotorua TIA Hotel General Managers have a video conference next week to establish what the new look for our market will be in the next three months and to start work on rebuilding our industry within the region.''
Pullman Rotorua general manager Richard Bungeroth said it had temporarily suspended all operations in response to Covid-19.
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''This decision was not made lightly and only after we had tried every means possible to reduce costs and maintain operations.
"Unfortunately, the effective shut-down of tourism both globally and domestically has left us no other choice," he said.
''Our priority remains the long-term safety, security, health and wellbeing of our guests and team members. We understand the impact this will have on our team members and on the community and our plan is to resume operations as soon as possible.
''Our thoughts remain with everyone impacted by this unprecedented event and we look forward to welcoming guests and visitors back to our hotel soon.''
New Zealand Hotel Owners Association chief executive Amy Robens said the overall economic impact on hotels would be ''significant''.
''Hotel occupancy plunged by 40 per cent in March this year compared to the same time in 2019 and RevPAR is down by 45 per cent, mostly driven by the freefall in the second half of the month.''
Those figures were ''bittersweet'' when overseas visitor arrivals into New Zealand increased by 2.9 per cent in January, reaching 410,432 and beating market expectations.
''Everything hinges on the lockdown alert phases which depend on how effective we are with battling Covid-19.''
Members were assessing their bottom-lines and where relief can be provided, she said.
''The next 18 months will be especially tough and we must protect our hotel assets worth around 10 billion dollars. Everything is dependent on getting Covid-19 under control ensuring peoples' health comes first.''
''In the meantime, we need to focus on maintaining hotel assets, the backbone of our tourism industry, to ensure when we come out of this we still have the infrastructure to rebuild the hotel sector.''
Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer said the pandemic was affecting a huge number of local businesses and the impact has been hardest felt in the tourism, hospitality, forestry and manufacturing sectors.
Infometrics data shows that in 2019, tourism accounted for 22.7 per cent of employment in Rotorua and the accommodation and food services sector employed 10.8 per cent of the region's workforce.
As Rotorua's Economic Development Agency, the team at Destination Rotorua was focused on cushioning the economic and social impacts of the virus in Rotorua by working with iwi, local businesses, Rotorua Lakes Council and Central Government to position Rotorua for recovery, she said.
''It's also important to remember that New Zealanders spend approximately $10b each year on overseas travel. Some of that spend will now make its way into the domestic market which creates an opportunity for Rotorua to enhance our position as a favoured domestic holiday destination.
''We're fortunate to have a strong industry partnership in Rotorua through the Rotorua Tourism Investment Partnership so we'll continue to align our marketing programmes and product development to the new view of the world we're facing together.''