Its Borders Shut, New Zealand Prods Native Vacationers to ‘Do One thing New’

Nadine Toe Toe and her family run the Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours in Murupara, a northeastern village with around 2,000 inhabitants, around 90 percent of whom are Maori. Before the pandemic, around 98 percent of the company’s customers were from overseas.


Apr. 5, 2021, 8:13 p.m. ET

“We wanted to create a truly truthful, real, cultural experience that shows our story, but also our reality,” said Ms. Toe Toe, 43. “When Covid struck and we lost our entire business overnight, we were suddenly faced with the reality that the domestic market does not offer ‘cultural products’ – it is not on the priority list.”

To attract local visitors, the company had to be renamed, she said. That has meant moving away from an extensive experience of contemporary Maori culture that many New Zealanders may already believe they know well.

“Before Covid, our culture was always paramount – we can proudly stand there and tell the world who we are, where we come from, why it is important to be Maori,” she said. “We are no longer a cultural tourism experience. We are now an accommodation by the lake. “

Larger companies also have problems. “We suffer, there is no doubt about it,” said Sir John Davies, 79, a businessman who owns several ski resorts, the guided walks on Routeburn and Milford, and the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook National Park.

Recently, he said, the Hermitage hosted 20 guests, up from about 600 in a typical year. He had to cut the hotel staff from 230 to less than 50. “It traded for $ 18,000 yesterday – the lowest value I’ve seen in 25 years,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to get local tourists. I mean we always did. “

Tourist attractions around the world, from New York to the Himalayas, are struggling without sightseer’s dollars. In Bali, the Indonesian vacation spot, some guest workers have returned to agriculture. Some places, like Istanbul, have tried to keep soldiers going. Others, like Hawaii, are nervous about opening up again.

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