Tourism businesses need to start working together to ensure the survival of the industry and the local economy.
That's the message from Craig Holley, co-owner of Adventure Playground Rotorua on Ngongotaha Rd, which is getting ready to reopen after more than six weeks out of action.
The business offered 4X4 self-drive tours, horse treks, clay shooting and 4WD Buggy Tours and Holley said preparations were well under way for level 2 so once they were given the go-ahead, they could start operating immediately.
"It has opened up a little more than we thought it was going to be. We're still going to have processes in place for separation of our clients, probably doing bubble tours and that sort of thing but because of the way we are set up it's going to be quite easy to control."
The Covid-19 pandemic forced New Zealand into lockdown on March 26, followed by the slight easing of restrictions under alert level 3 last week. On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed that under alert level 2 retail outlets, malls, restaurants, bars, hair salons, gyms, playgrounds and more could open while following social distancing rules.
Holley said with travel restrictions in place, the domestic tourism market would be the saving grace for the tourism industry and urged people to support local. However, he knew it was easier said than done for some.
"For the tourism industry, it's going to be crucial. The bottom line is that there is a lot of people that probably have trips overseas booked that have cancelled who are either going to reorganise something to do so local tourism would be the natural thing. A lot of people should look and see their own backyard before they travel, but on the other side of it you've got a lot of people that have been made unemployed, which is going to make it a little bit tough for people as well.
"Us Kiwis don't like being cooped up for five or six weeks either."
Domestic tourism made up about 65 per cent of Adventure Playground Rotorua's business before the Covid-19 pandemic, which included a lot of corporate and private functions.
However, with businesses and individuals struggling, Holley expects that part of their business to weaken a bit.
He hoped to work with other Rotorua businesses in the coming weeks and months to help promote themselves and other operators to create strong relationships and products people want. He's also looking at expanding the business in the near future to include more activities.
"It's probably more prevalent than ever the local businesses should be working together.
"That's probably something that could be nurtured a little bit more going forward because ultimately it's the whole economy going to benefit from more tourism."
Going into lockdown, My Barber owner Ants Haines was worried he'd have to let his three staff go but through creating opportunities including providing home cuts in the week leading up to alert level 4 helped increase cashflow.
"We started our small businesses for our families and to create opportunities for others and to let someone go it's quite heart-wrenching."
It also meant he was able to enjoy the time away from the shop.
"I sort of went into it thinking I'm just going to just take some time out to be a dad for once and just really slow down, turn off the mind, the thoughts and just relax a bit too," Haines said.
After more than six weeks without professional haircuts, Haines is expecting his customers to flock to his Rotorua shop when it is allowed to open. And although he's looking forward to seeing his customers again he's urging people to be patient as small businesses navigate their new way of operating.
"I think were going to get smashed once these doors open but if everyone can be a little bit patient and a little bit mindful of others as well, as small businesses go back there's going to be a lot of demand and we're only human."
He says there are a lot of benefits to a new haircut and believes people will need it for reasons beyond just tidying themselves up.
"Making yourself feel better, looking better if you look good, you feel good, I think a lot of people will be needing that. A lot of people lost their jobs so a good tidy haircut can make them feel a little bit better and give them self esteem to look for some new jobs or something."