Easter break brings business boost
Moving to the orange Covid setting, coupled with holiday goers and shoppers bringing life back to the streets over Easter, has given businesses a boost, but some say there’s a long way to go before they return to prepandemic prosperity.
In Christchurch, Central City Business Association chair Annabel Turley said it was noticeable that more people felt comfortable going into the city since restrictions eased last week, and Saturday was ‘‘nice and busy’’ in particular.
Canterbury president of Hospitality New Zealand Peter Morrison said it was a ‘‘pity’’ local businesses could not trade as usual on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It was something he was working with the city council to hopefully change, he said.
Suburban areas were already doing well because people had not been travelling into the city, but he saw that start to turn around this weekend.
‘‘There’s been a lot more people out and about. It’s still not back to good levels, but it’s better, a lot better.’’
Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult the combination of great weather, easing Covid restrictions, start of the school holidays, and the district’s allowance of Easter trading made for a busy weekend in his district.
‘‘We’ve had the busiest period I think we’ve had since preCovid.’’
He noted one good weekend would not fix the challenges the district had faced since the pandemic began though, and he had not noticed many ‘‘Aussie accents’’ around yet since vaccinated Australians were able to cross the border without the need for managed isolation from last week.
‘‘We’re probably not going to see a fix for that until ski season.’’
The council had been talking to Air New Zealand about resuming direct flights between Australia and Queenstown sooner than the end of June, and the airline was ‘‘considering it’’, he said. Qantas planned to resume flights between Sydney and Queenstown from May 23, and from Brisbane and Melbourne to Queenstown from June 18.
‘‘It’s certainly great to see Kiwis out and about though.’’
The long weekend and decent weather encouraged people out to central Christchurch too, particularly on Saturday and Monday when Easter trading restrictions were not in place.
Among them was Alecia Jones, who enjoyed an afternoon at Margaret Mahy Family Playground with her children and their grandmother on Monday.
The family spent the weekend ‘‘relaxing, accessing lots of free activities for the children’’, Jones said.
Fumi Takai, at Espresso Studio near Riverside, said he opened only on Monday, but there were many more people around than usual.
Joanna Green, from Oxford in North Canterbury, visited Hanmer Springs and found it ‘‘absolutely jam-packed’’ with ‘‘queues out the door’’.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot said the long weekend had been better than he expected.
‘‘We’re very happy and very thankful for our Christchurch and Canterbury locals for coming back.’’
Since the traffic light change, bookings for accommodation ‘‘grew dramatically’’ and there were clearly more people around town. Abbot said he was not expecting many Australian tourists until the ski season arrived though.