Tourism operators at Aoraki/Mt Cook plan to open as soon as possible


Charlie and Mary Hobbs, pictured outside the Old Mountaineer Café and Bar in March, plan to be open for business and want Kiwis to know there will be plenty to do in the area should they choose to visit.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF

Charlie and Mary Hobbs, pictured outside the Old Mountaineer Café and Bar in March, plan to be open for business and want Kiwis to know there will be plenty to do in the area should they choose to visit.

Tourism operators in Aoraki/Mt Cook have raised concerns a proposal to close the Hermitage Hotel until visitor numbers pick up again could lead people to think the rest of the village will close.

Old Mountaineer Café and Bar owner Mary Hobbs, whose business is located in the village, wants to send a clear message to any aspiring domestic tourists that her operation will remain open and there will still be plenty for visitors to do there when domestic travel becomes legally viable again.

Hobbs said her business – which also offers guiding, heli-skiing, and kayaking at the Tasman Glacier — would be operating this winter, once it was clear what the rules were around domestic travel.

“[We] will be open as soon as we are able.”

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The Hermitage Hotel has proposed axing all but eight of its 178 staff in the tiny alpine village and starting the business from scratch. A final decision will be announced on Friday.

Hobbs worried people would assume because the Hermitage was closed, which she understood was being proposed because the costs to remain open were too high, the rest of the village would be too – but that was not the case.

Inflite, which operates Mt Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters, chief executive Adam Joyce said his business planned to open as soon as the Government gave it the green light.

“We’re looking at every option at the moment to try to keep a level of product available to the domestic market. We hope to provide scenic flights and skiing,” Joyce said.

“Our key concern about the Hermitage closing is the reduction in the pool of things to do and places to stay. Activity breeds activity.”

Joyce said about 90 per cent of Mt Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters’ customers were tourists from overseas.

Tourism operators say there will still be plenty to do for those Kiwis who choose to visit Aoraki/Mount Cook when conditions allow.

JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Tourism operators say there will still be plenty to do for those Kiwis who choose to visit Aoraki/Mount Cook when conditions allow.

“It’s going to be really hard and there’s a lot of answered questions. The key question is, can we attract Kiwis there? It’s never going to be quieter so there’s no better time to explore our backyard,” he said.

“We absolutely have to target the domestic market because to be anywhere near sustainable, we definitely need to get a higher number of Kiwis through than we did last year.”

The business had worked closely with the Hermitage in the past to promote its products, he said.

“We are definitely talking to the other accommodation providers at the moment.”

The Hermitage Hotel going into hibernation is expected to have an impact on other operators at Aoraki/Mt Cook.

The-Press

The Hermitage Hotel going into hibernation is expected to have an impact on other operators at Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Meanwhile, staff at the Hermitage Hotel have started a ‘Help the Hermitage’ social media campaign in an attempt to draw more people to the region and keep the hotel open.

“We want to save our hotel and prove that it’s worth us staying open, and we need your help to do that,” a post at the top of the page reads.

“Now is the time we need to pull together as a country and help struggling local businesses and get our economy booming again.

“We need an idea of what local interest is out there. We can then hopefully come up with some amazing deals for when you come spend a weekend.”