Free fuel vouchers: Promotion to lure visitors to West Coast

Tourist-starved businesses on the West Coast have hatched a plan to draw in more visitors – they’re offering to pay their fuel costs.

To lessen the blow from the latest suspension of the transtasman bubble, businesses have pulled together a deal offering travellers free $50 fuel vouchers.

The deal has been created by the Back to the Future’ group – a group of West Coast businesses- to help stimulate demand to the hard-hit South Westland region post Covid-19.

It offers a free $50 fuel voucher for the first 50 bookings made online for their $299 Franz Josef and Hokitika – Back to The Future 2 Deal.

South Westland was one of the hardest-hit areas in New Zealand from Covid-19, with warnings earlier this year Franz Josef Glacier could be on the brink of collapsing unless it received much-needed Government support.

That was backed up by data from consumer spending specialists MarketView, which shows visitor spending in the tourist hotspots of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier is down 48 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

West Coast Wildlife Centre director and Back to The Future spokesman Richard Benton said to combat the fall-out from the pandemic, the group needed to put together several “spectacular” deals to draw tourists in.

He said the $299 package – formed after the Covid outbreak – had gone exceptionally well but they needed to “sweeten the deal” when the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia burst.

“Petrol is expensive at the moment, we have come up with an idea to help bring New Zealanders down and enjoy an incredible value of money package in the glacier region,” Benton said.

He said the past year has been extremely challenging for communities, with 25 per cent of people leaving the region.

About 60 per cent of jobs are gone and visitor spending is down 48 per cent compared to pre-Covid levels, Benton said.

“This is a community that is a little bit stretched but it is also a resilient community, and we are trying to bring people down to experience West Coast hospitality in an incredibly beautiful part of the world”.

Heliservices.NZ general manager Mike Nolan said the business received a lot of support from Kiwis after it was reduced to the domestic market – and the free vouchers are a way to give back.

But he said it is a tough time for businesses working hard to keep the books balanced – and he hoped the deal would be an incentive for travellers.

The package includes a flight over the Franz Josef Glacier with Heliservices.NZ, one night’s accommodation in a luxury Tree Lodge at the Qualmark gold-rated Rainforest Retreat, and entry to the West Coast Wildlife Centre.

It further includes one night’s stay in a four-star ocean view suite at The Beachfront Hotel in Hokitika and a pass to the West Coast Treetop Walk and Café in Hokitika.

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