Queenstown’s intention to preserve its status as one of the most visited tourist towns in New Zealand is going to be aided by a more comprehensive Covid-19 testing regime at its airport, ports and maritime borders. Therefore, more visitors could be experiencing arguably the most panoramic backdrop of any air taxi ramp in the world.
No complacency at all costs
There have been no new Covid-19 cases in Queenstown and indeed the South Island since April 2020. However, it is important to note that a recent spike in cases in the North Island has caused a need to reinforce compliance measures in the south of the country.
The Southern District Health Board (responsible for the region’s healthcare) has reiterated that their Covid-19 case-free results were due to mandates in place to manage Covid-19 compliance implementation at major regional events (including concerts) and for the likely influx of tourists during the peak holiday season.
The Director of the Southern District Health Board, Lisa Gestro, said: ‘‘It is imperative that the ongoing requirement to maintain sufficient surveillance in our community, as well as undertake the required level of port and border testing, alongside the need to deliver regular pop-ups in high tourism areas, such as Queenstown, means that we need to transition Covid-19 testing into more of a business-as-usual approach.’’
Cost-efficient strategy going forward
The absence of Covid-19 cases in the South Island in the past nine months has resulted in a reduction in funding for testing regimes. Furthermore, health service personnel that were previously involved in the Covid-19 testing implementation have now had to relinquish their duties. This is so they can facilitate other health departments in catching up with their oversubscribed waiting lists.
Furthermore, the travel corridor between Australia (another example of a country with successful Covid-19 implementation) and the South Island has resulted in the need to reassess Covid-19 testing requirements for travellers between the two regions. This includes testing implementation plans for Queenstown Airport that will require further manpower as and when such initiatives are rolled out.