GOLOCAL

The Whanganui River is home to a number of tourist activities, all of which have been affected by Covid-19 and now relying on domestic tourism to operate.

Whanganui Maori Regional Tourism Organisation chairman Hayden Potaka said the operations under their network have felt the effects of two months' lost work and income.

"It's good to have had the wage subsidy at the time just so that workers were okay but it's going to be a bit of a hard job to restart in the summer season if people aren't booking over the winter," he said.

And bookings will be the key in getting these operations back on their feet to ensure they are not hit too hard with the economic impact that may come in summer.

Advertisement

Although he knows they may get a few people booking over the winter he urged locals to get out and explore what the river and the city had to offer.

"Locally we've got to support our local businesses, whether it's in our hospitality businesses or in retail. Providing we abide by the rules within level 2 and also moving into level 1, because we don't want to have a relapse but we do want to stimulate the economy by shopping local and doing activities local."

Whanganui Maori Regional Tourism Organisation chairman, Hayden Potaka wants to encourage the community to support Whanganui River attractions through the tough times of Covid-19. Photo / File
Whanganui Maori Regional Tourism Organisation chairman, Hayden Potaka wants to encourage the community to support Whanganui River attractions through the tough times of Covid-19. Photo / File

Some of the operations have been able to open under alert level 2 including the Waimarie and the Motor Vessel Wairua, Whanganui River Adventures, Bridge to Nowhere Jet Boat tours and Whanganui Tours.

But a number of others will soon be closing down for winter, including Whanganui River Canoes.

All operators will continue to take bookings for the summer season.

Potaka said they will rely on schools who book their annual national competitions and events up the river and he is looking forward to seeing the events industry back in business.

He said the Maori tourism organisation is looking to work with Whanganui District Council and Whanganui and Partners to run a campaign promoting local river attractions because Tourism NZ has not featured Whanganui in its latest campaign.

This may include using new and old footage of the river to start building the next campaign.

Advertisement

For now though Potaka said the whole visitor sector within Whanganui has a role to play.

"Go on the go-carts at the weekend, have a go at all of the fine things we have in this great city and that will help the economy a bit more."