The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the travel industry. Hotels, restaurants, and airlines closing around the world, or trying to survive with so many restrictions. However, there are a few places in the world that still suffer from a surplus of tourists. One of such places are the Chatham Islands that belong to New Zealand. This is another paradise to escape the world and a pandemic. But will you really find peace here at this time?
This archipelago of the Pacific Ocean is technically a part of New Zealand. As the national borders of New Zealand were closed and locals were advised not to travel abroad at the time of pandemic, the Chatham Islands – about 500 miles east of the country’s southern island – have become the hottest travel destination for New Zealanders in 2020.
In a typical year, the Chatham Archipelago, where the main two inhabited islands are Chatham and Pit Islands, are visited by about 2,000 tourists per year. And would be quite a lot compared to the approximately 700 permanent residents of these islands. A major part of this population lives on the largest island of the archipelago Chatham.
But 2020 was not an ordinary year. Because the island of Chatham is quite far away from New Zealand, the locals have visited it less often. However, the remoteness of the island has suddenly become its advantage in 2020. The travel-hungry New Zealanders flock to the islands to feel, at least in part, as if on a further journey that requires neither a coronavirus test nor quarantine.
Reoriented Tourism Sector
Reaching to the archipelago is not cheap and here are no beach resorts, as a result, young people who are looking for cheap trips are rarely meet here. However, when the pandemic closed state borders, the official national tourism council of the country had to shift its target from foreign tourists to promoting domestic travel.
Therefore, the normally quite sleepy island of Chatham has become a hot spot. At present, demand on the island far exceeds supply. It has been estimated that there are around 150 beds in the islands in various hotels, cottages, guest houses and local residences that go to sites such as Airbnb. Most of the island’s land is privately owned, so camping is prohibited here. The only airline to serve the archipelago is Air Chatham, which operates just a few flights a week between Chatham Island and the “mainland”.
The tourism season usually lasts from November to March, as there is summer in the southern part of the world during these months. But now all accommodation on the island is reserved until June 2021. Visitors are attracted by the wonderful, “little-touched” landscape. Both Pit and Chatham Islands are also home to some of the rarest birds in the world, and there is a large colony of seals here. This year, the islands received a lot of money from the New Zealand government for the renovation of the infrastructure projects such as the improvement of public facilities and the reconstruction of the airport.