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April 2020 Issue
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Covid-19 ripples felt in NZ outdoors scene

Mark Sedon says the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival should run as scheduled on June 26

New Zealand hasn’t yet been hit hard by Coronavirus – touch wood – but second-hand effects are being felt across the outdoors sector.

Hiking New Zealand director Anne Murphy said the guiding company is experiencing some last-minute cancellations, but the majority of international clients are committing to their holiday.

“For many of our travellers, it is not the fear  of actually catching Covid-19 but the uncertainty of what movement restrictions might be put in place while they are travelling or when they return home,” Murphy said.

“We are in the last few weeks of operating guided hiking trips for this season, so it will be a weak finish to what had been a good summer for us. How this situation unfolds globally in the next few months will determine what the medium-term looks like for New Zealand tourism.”

New Zealand Mountain Film Festival director Mark Sedon is hopeful the Kiwi fest, scheduled to begin on June 26, will go ahead, but it will be at a reduced capacity.

The international speakers scheduled to visit have been cancelled, and Sedon has paused his salary to keep the festival moving along.

“We are considering various options like using a smaller venue, smaller national tours and doing shows online,” he said. “We’ll give anyone who feels unwell full refunds to encourage them to stay   at home.”

A decision on the festival will be made in May.

Macpac’s Gavin Davidson said most trade partners and suppliers in China are getting  back to work now, after Chinese New Year.

“I get the sense from talking to those guys that things are getting back into balance in China,” he said.

Gear distributor Neil Stichbury from Outfitters said some brands will be hit harder than others. 

“[Rab] will be running around a month behind, but because of seasonality this impacts us less than in the Northern Hemisphere,” he said.

Trampers should stay vigilant with personal hygiene and handwashing around huts and campsites, and stay home if sick.