Nelson’s travel agents are asking for more help to see through the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic as they fear their industry has been forgotten about.
other associated industries, like regional tourism and international schools, have been given Government packages, those in the local travel industry say they have been left behind.
Some have even resorted to working processing fish or taking up cleaning jobs to get by.
“We are dying a slow and painful death, and no one wants to hear or tell our story,” says Tracey Lynch of Hello World Nelson.
She says many travel shops have closed, agents have been made redundant and are on the brink of being without a job – especially when the Covid wage subsidy runs out next week.
“No business can keep their doors open without an income and only giving money back – all the money we have earned in the last 12 months.”
Agents are obligated to look after their customers, even if they are no longer being paid, as they are paid on commission at the time of sale from airlines or suppliers.
“We are working our butts off to get refunds back and have nothing to sell, so no income at all since mid-March.”
She says the whole industry is in limbo as to what happens next.
Manager of World Travellers, Alex Chisnall, managed to get out of her lease of her Trafalgar St location, “hibernated” her business and is now working from home.
She had take a job on the hoki line at Sealord to help get her children through university but says it has also given her the headspace to think about what is next for her business.
“It has given me time to think,” she says. However, the uncertainty has taken its toll. “We still have to pay staff and have all these bills coming out, but we are extremely committed to our clients.”
She hoped talk of a Pacific or Australia bubble might have eventuated but there is nothing on the horizon.
“It’s such a tricky situation because we have to protect our people, but we have to protect some livelihoods as well.”
Alex says there have been meetings and petitions with ministers which she was hopeful might turn into something tangible.
Owner of House of Travel Nelson, Jason McKay, says that he is optimistic despite the current situation.
“A lot of our customers we are chatting to and they are still asking when they can travel. It’s a bit disappointing what’s happening in Australia as we had hoped for that bubble but it seems further away now.”
He says the Pacific Islands are likely the first place that Kiwis will be allowed to travel to.
“A lot of our customers have credits to use. So, they need to fly somewhere and do something fun with those credits. We are confident people will come back to us … We can only hope there is something around the corner.”