Rotorua's once-thriving events industry is grappling with the economic fallout from Covid-19 but there's confidence the industry will get moving again.
Since the alert level 4 lockdown on March 26, events in the city have slumped.
In Rotorua, the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to a massive impact on conferences, exhibitions, shows, sporting events and public events for the rest of the year.
Among the events postponed are the Good Vibes Winter Festival, scheduled for Rotorua on July 18, with Kiwi artists L.A.B, Katchafire, Ardijah, Che Fu, General Fiyah, Three Houses Down and Victor Sefo and Hawaii's Kolohe Kai were also part of the line-up.
Organiser Pato Alvarez said new dates for later in the year would be released soon and the bands were "really excited to get back to work and tour".
"We think it is the right thing to do right now," he said.
Despite the current slump, Alvarez and his business partner Mitch Lowe, who together are behind some of the biggest music festivals in New Zealand including Bay Dreams and Soundsplash, were confident the Bay of Plenty could become New Zealand's entertainment hub once the Covid-19 pandemic had passed.
"We have always believed this. Each summer it shows," Lowe said.
Last Thursday it was announced Rotorua's iconic Lakeside concert scheduled for March 2021 would not go ahead because Rotorua Lakeside Concert Charitable Trustees felt it would be inappropriate to seek financial and commercial support needed for their milestone 25th-anniversary event given the impact of Covid-19 on the Rotorua community.
Bookings at one of Rotorua's most popular venues have also taken a dive since the lockdown.
The number of events at the Energy Events Centre has more than halved from 127 confirmed before lockdown, catering to various group sizes between 14 people and 10,000 people over multiple days, to 59 this week. Those latter bookings are in various stages from inquiries, tentative, to potential postponement dates.
A total of 45 events have been cancelled and 26 postponed, including The Rotorua Marathon postponed from May to September 26. Those working in the events and entertainment industry are among the hardest hit by Covid-19.
Rotorua Lakes Council operations manager Jocelyn Mikaere said the impact of events being postponed or cancelled would be felt widely.
"We know the events industry is among those most affected by Covid-19 and that the impact will extend beyond just the event organisers themselves. Many suppliers, both direct and indirect, are feeling the effect of the Covid-19 response right now."
Mikaere said the council's business events and Energy Events Centre manager Joelene Elliott served as the Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand vice president and had been involved in hosting webinars as well as advocating for venues around alert level guidelines.
"This work is focused on finding solutions, and determining how events can successfully adapt in this new environment while Covid-19 is a risk," Mikaere said.
She said guidelines would continue to evolve and with a level of uncertainty around restrictions for events "we hope to see those restrictions safely evolve to allow more events to continue, sooner".
"In the meantime, we're confident that we can help organisers get back to business, hosting quality events, while also protecting the wellbeing of attendees and our community. Our teams are looking forward to supporting organisers both locally and domestically to get the industry moving again."
Activities and Events Unlimited owner Ian Mexted-Dykes said after securing their first conference in Rotorua for November, with another pending, they hoped to be at level 1 by then.
"That is 80 to 100 people coming in and eating at local restaurants and cafes, using local opportunities. That will be massive especially with overseas travel dropping off."
Mexted-Dykes said the event industry was struggling after not having any direct income for several weeks.
"The hardest thing is going to be with companies like us is being able to keep your head above water.
"We have got to look at September and November before we are going to get income coming in. We are hanging on until then."
But he was confident business would continue to pick up.
"I really believe it will come back," he said.
"We have been beavering away during the lockdown. I think that was one of the key measures for us, we haven't given up."
Last week, Event Impressions director Jeff Alexander told Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee that event businesses battled with what was likely to be weeks and months of no income.
Unlike other businesses that could open their doors in level 2 and welcome back customers, most of their events had been cancelled in the immediate future and there was a long lead-in time before they could plan and organise more events and therefore start to get income.
Alexander and his wife Jacqui have built up the Rotorua-based event company over the past 18 years to be a thriving business that is involved in more than 200 annual events throughout the country. It employs five people with a team of up to 20 casual workers who do event design and styling including event decor, event flowers, event linen, event furniture and event management expertise.
He said he "absolutely" believed business events would return but there was a lot of uncertainty around when that would happen as businesses struggled and were wary of holding event gatherings.
"New Zealanders will resume the need to learn, to celebrate, to socialise, to convene in person. We will be denied this future for the sake of six months if we cannot secure assistance."
He hoped the Government would show confidence in the industry by both central and government booking events.
"Right now we are seeing Government conferences cancelling for a lot of this year."