New Zealand’s Fox Glacier has long been an internationally renowned tourism attraction. But the Covid-induced border closure has badly impacted the remote destination.

Located on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Fox Glacier township, as well as the nearby Franz Josef, own spectacular scenic views of snow mountains, glaciers and temperate rain forest, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Around three to four-hour drive from renowned Queenstown and Wanaka makes the remote town always ski tourists’ alternative for winter adventure and relaxation. The local economy is extremely reliant on tourism, especially international tourists.

Rob Jewell, CEO of Fox Glacier Guiding, is deeply concerned about the cancellations of booking after the eight-week pause of Trans-Tasman travel bubble implemented in late July, usually the peak season for businesses of Fox Glacier township.

Jewell told Xinhua that 97 per cent of his revenue came from international tourists before the Covid-19 pandemic.

To date, the remote township witnessed four times more domestic tourists coming in the past half year. The operating capacity of Jewell’s company, however, remained only 10 per cent of the pre-Covid period.

“This year, we cannot see any good signs before October due to new Covid outbreak in Australia,” Jewell said.

A survey launched by the Glacier Country Tourism Group, a regional marketing group in Westland, shows that in the past year, 73 per cent of 103 businesses in the Group reduced their staff.

All together 519 jobs were reported lost. At least 68 businesses and an additional 195 jobs will likely be lost in the next six months if there is no changes on the border control or no additional support from the government.

Before the pandemic, Fox Glacier township had around 250 residents. Now the number plummeted to 160.

Jewell still holds an optimistic view on his business in a long run, however.

“I am on rebuilding strategy of my business. Maybe the year of 2022, maybe later, the border will reopen and tourists will come back. We need to be ready for that.”

–IANS

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