The coronavirus might have stopped international visitors filling up vacation accommodation, but it’s also meant Kiwis are unable to fly north for the winter. Instead of leaving, they’re seeing their country in a different climate, the cold no longer a hindrance.

With current figures New Zealand is taking the global lead, ahead of countries like Germany, France and Australia, in terms of the increase in short-term rental bookings.

Six weeks ago, local AirBnB owners had all bookings for the foreseeable future disappear. Some of the owners are pensioners, relying on the income from their short-term accommodation to bolster their pension, for others it provides the opportunity to save money for their own future holiday.

“Airbnb contacted us, letting us know they would cover 25% of our loss, but we haven’t seen that to date,” says one source.

Other Airbnb owners were fortunate enough to have international travellers stay over lockdown. Originally planning on staying 2 or 3 days, some ended up staying weeks. Dean and Helen Andrew, Airbnb owners from Hope had a booking from a U.K woman.

“She was traveling around New Zealand on her bike, staying in a tent. But someone recommended our caravan to her as a better option with winter coming on.  She ended up with us for 5 weeks”, said Dean.

Airbnb customers on the other hand, did not lose out as a result of cancelling their bookings during lockdown. This has helped to ensure the same customers are booking accommodation again as they run with the new sense of freedom level 2 lockdown has given them.

Winter is normally a slow time for vacation accommodation which is perhaps a reason that the numbers are looking a lot better post lockdown.

Tony Terrell from Discover New Zealand Motorhomes, Richmond said, “this time of year we’re normally shut and I’m off on holiday but we’re currently booking 4-5 hires a day at the moment”.

It’s not because prices are lower either, says Tony.

“Mobile homes are cheaper this time of the year anyway, we’ve only dropped prices slightly compared to normal winter prices.

Most international visitors don’t traditionally come to New Zealand until the summer when they’re escaping their own winters. And winter here is normally the time New Zealanders head off to warmer climates.

Finally being able to get away from the home they’ve been locked up in for the last 8 weeks might have more to do with the increases in numbers. It’s another way in which the Coronavirus has changed the way people view their lives and that things don’t have to remain the way they’ve always done them.

People are getting out and about throughout the nation and that has to be beneficial for many businesses besides short term accommodation.

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