It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago, my love and I were in Sydney, basking in the colourful revelry of Mardi Gras. We drank bubbles on the plane, went shopping in the CBD, and joined the crowd of thousands to watch the parade. It was legal then to congregate. It was also legal to travel. It seems like a lifetime ago, in much sunnier times. Such a trip across the Tasman would be inconceivable now.
While we’re stuck staring at our four walls, I’m sure many of us have daydreamed about lounging about on a tropical beach, cocktail in hand. It’s an attractive fantasy that seems a long way off, as even when travel restrictions begin to ease, travellers will grapple with a vastly changed travel industry.
While I wholeheartedly encourage daydream-travel to faraway tropical islands, bustling metropoles, and the many wonders of our world, when we’re all let out of home detention, I’d humbly suggest that we stay local – at least for the first 12 months.
I was lucky enough to be born into a tourism family. My parents owned and operated hotels, cafes and other tourism businesses in the tourism capital of New Zealand – Rotorua. Tourism is an exciting industry packed full of fascinating characters. It employs all kinds of people, from cleaning staff to adventure tourism practitioners to pilots to marketing executives. It’s creative, innovative, and can be hugely fun to work in. It’s also tough, particularly on the hospitality side, and can involve long hours and exhausting work.
It’s much tougher, however, when there are no tourists.
I can’t put into words the magnitude of the impact that Covid-19 is having upon our tourism and hospitality industries. My heart breaks for the many New Zealanders who will lose their incomes not only for the period of the shutdown, but for many months, or even years afterwards as the tourism, travel and hospitality industries slowly kick back into gear. Many of us will do it tough over the next six-12 months, but I can think of few industries that will be as utterly decimated as tourism.
With that in mind, I’d like to propose a return to the good old Kiwi holiday. While our tourism industry grapples with the worst downturn it’s likely ever seen, let’s help out our fellow New Zealanders by travelling within New Zealand. When we’re finally allowed to travel domestically again, if we’re financially able to, let’s try to take holidays in our own backyard.
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