On Monday Aucklanders will be able to travel again which could bring much relief to towns that rely on domestic visitors like Ohakune in the central North Island.

Relief for tourism towns as Auckland moves to Level 2

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Towns like Ohakune in the central North Island rely on domestic visitors. Source: 1 NEWS

Tickets for mid-winter music festival Mardi Gras have sold out, but Covid restrictions might prevent it going ahead.

A major blow for a region that would normally by going off right now.

“So we have been quite busy up until lockdown and then it just completely died like a knife had been put through it,” says Leigh Berry from Ruapehu Motel.

Businesses like this rely heavily on the winter season. A small window of 16 weeks when mountain conditions are sublime and punters travel to the central plateau for skiing.

“This week we’re down to one or two or three bookings a day,” says Ms Berry.

Ruapehu Motel is at 10 per cent capacity and it’s a similar story up the road at Kings Ohakune Accommodation where out of 26 rooms two are booked.

“Honestly it was a big kick in the guts,” says Stu Robinson from Kings Ohakune Accommodation.

“A massive one this weekend, one previous weekend two huge ones, yesterday I took a cancellation for a private function which was taking half of the hotel and dining area for the week of the 5th.

“But at this stage there’s still a lot of people unsure what it means.”

Mr Robinson says those big events bring tens of thousands of dollars, but business is now at least 70 per cent down.

“For any business that is struggling they have to approach us,” says Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron.

“We’ve made it quite clear that we were going to look at each individual businesses that required help and see where we can help them.”

It’s sill not clear just how badly businesses here will be affected. The council is confident most will survive winter, but when 1 NEWS spoke to those hamstrung by Covid restrictions there was only one word used to describe the atmosphere ‘quiet’.

Projects like the Te Ara Mangawhero cycle trail would create jobs and stimulate the summer market, if funding can be approved.

“We’re renegotiating that position is the best way I can put that,” says Mr Cameron.

Struggling businesses can only hope visitors come calling soon.

Sourced from Newshub

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