New Zealand has been one of the leading examples around the world in combating Covid 19 (at the time of writing this article). With health risks significantly reduced, it’s time to get the economy rolling again. 

New Zealand has kept the borders closed to overseas visitors. For tourism and hospitality businesses this is a very tough pill to swallow, but a smart move by the government. The possibility of a second wave and another lockdown period would simply be catastrophic.

As many sectors in the economy quietly shift from first working from home, then getting back into the office and now establishing a new normal, there is still a vital element of many businesses yet to feel the full impact. The New Zealand Government wage support subsidy has been a short term blessing for many but there are still plenty of tough times ahead. 

What are the best ways you can support locally owned Tourism and Hospitality businesses? 

During the lockdown period many small operators were forced into planning, adjusting and future-proofing their business. There are a few case studies in Hawke’s Bay of businesses within the Hospitality and tourism sectors successfully pivoting or adjusting their business focus.

As the country moved from the fully locked down Alert Level 4 to Level 3 where some businesses could re-start in a limited way, Bay Tours & Charters established a partnership with Central Fire Station Bistro in Napier to deliver restaurant quality meals to the  loyal customers of both companies utilising the Bay Tours fleet and logistic skills and showcasing Chef Sam Clark’s incredible food. ‘Meal Delivery Hawke’s Bay’ was one of the first pivots and has, since full opening up under Level 1, ceased operation so the respective businesses can focus on their core offerings. 

For Bay Tours & Charters the wheels are rolling again. This means getting back to providing world class wine tours, providing charters for groups and continuing to explore Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand and eventually the world with our locally based Senior Tour Club

For other tourism businesses and hospitality businesses the ‘new norm’ may look a little different. But one thing is clear – When locally owned businesses thrive, the economy has a great chance to get back on track. 

Below you will see our tips for how every New Zealander can do their part to support local and back our own backyard;

Use booking platforms like Tripadvisor and Ubereats as a tool – but BOOK DIRECT

Did you know that Ubereats takes up to 30% commission from restaurants in New Zealand? Most Kiwis know this thanks to the recent media spotlight. Did you know that Tripadvisor,, Airbnb and Viator all take hefty commissions? These are all large International corporations who take their profits offshore. 

One of the great trends we have seen (particularly on social media) is people using Ubereats and similar platforms as a tool to find what food they want to eat in their location, then once they have chosen, they book directly with the restaurant… just a thought!

Book Direct with local operatorsWhat we recommend –   If you really want to support locally owned businesses, book directly with the tour company, Hotel or Restaurant. In Hawke’s Bay there is a great website that lists restaurants that deliver in your area. Check out Hawke’s Bay at Home here.          

Prebook for your next NZ Holiday now

This one is directly related to supporting local tourism businesses, but once you’ve arrived in your destination – shop, eat and support local retailers! (More on that below)

You may not be ready to travel right now, but now is the time to start making plans to visit some of New Zealand’s best destinations when you are ready. Book now with companies that have flexible cancellation policies or buy a gift voucher and make the most of the special offers many New Zealand businesses are advertising (but remember to book direct). If you need some extra inspiration for planning a visit to a New Zealand destination there are a number of tools you can use. 

The first place to find information is local visitor organisations. The New Zealand i-Site network is a great start or visit regional tourism organisation websites such as Hawke’s Bay Tourism or even the official  Tourism New Zealand website.

New Zealand hikeWhat we recommend – Travel blogs often have honest insights and peer reviews on certain tours, activities or destinations plus you will get some handy hints and ‘wish i’d known that’ tips for when you are planning your visit.

 Leave reviews if you have dined at a restaurant before or reviews of experiences

Some of the strongest voices for any business are word of mouth and social advocacy. Writing a positive review on social media, Google or even TripAdvisor is free and only takes a few minutes. However the value for a local business can be immense! 

If you have a few favourite restaurants, Hotels/Motels or tour companies that you have enjoyed in the past, then consider leaving a review of your experiences so others can enjoy the same positive experiences. 

Leave reviews at RestaurantsWhat we recommend – Next time you’re dining at your favourite café, bar or restaurant or enjoying a tourism experience, take a photo and share it with your friends or go a step further and post your positive review on the platform of your choice.

 Engage with your favourite brand’s social posts, share with friends and follow local companies

Social Media has its pitfalls but there’s no denying how powerful Facebook and Instagram can be when it comes to sharing meaningful stories and information with the community and increasing a local business’s exposure. 

Did you know that Instagram and Facebook both have algorithms that reward genuine interactions? This means that posts which have received more genuine comments and ‘likes’ are more likely to have a larger organic reach. 

What we recommend – If you love a post by one of your favourite tour companies or anyone in the hospo industry like, comment and share it! 

Dine out! Eat local food and drink local wine/beers

When we travel internationally, eating and drinking the local food and wine is such an important part of the experience and understanding a culture. It is the same for New Zealand domestic destinations. We all know that when you visit Southland you should be trying Bluff Oysters or Cheese Rolls and local Oranges in Gisborne. 

Hawke’s Bay is famous for our wines (of course!) but we also happen to be a hub for amazing produce and artisan producers. All it takes is a 20 minute walk through the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market on a Sunday morning to see how diverse and fresh the produce is. 

What we recommend – Eat at restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients and have a local wine list. They, too, are supporting local producers if they do this. If you are visiting Hawke’s Bay check out Hawke’s Bay At Home the amazing directory set up by the local hospitality industry. 

Why use local tour operators and book tours?

This is our time to toot our own horn a little bit and encourage locals and New Zealanders to book onto a Bay Tours & Charters tour when visiting a region or exploring their own backyard. There are so many benefits to booking a tour (even in your own country!). Below is a short list of the benefits;


This one is usually the first thing you think of when you are considering booking a wine tour. The core purpose of any Wine Tour is to get passengers safely from the accommodation to the local wineries and then back again. Everyone in your group can join in on the wine tasting and not have to worry about driving. 

This of course also means the stress associated with itinerary planning and driving is eliminated! Let the driver/guide worry about the best route and navigate traffic while you sit back and enjoy the sights. 

Often tours can take place in unique vehicles that enhance the experience. This might be luxury vehicles with extra room for your group to enjoy and interact, such as the upscaled LVNZ Mercedes Sprinters or something totally unique like a private Hawke’s Bay tour in the Black Rose Limousine

Meet like-minded travellers 

Meeting other travellers can be one of the greatest experiences and lead to lifelong friendships. The added bonus with the International borders being closed is your new best friends probably live in New Zealand which means Round 2 is easier to organise! 

Get Expert insight and local tips

Exploring a new destination on your own can lead to many amazing things and is often seen as more adventurous. Let’s be honest, we love to be independent! But when we do travel we always try to join at least one local tour to get insights on what the best restaurants and local activities are in the area. On a local tour you can expect to get expert information and stories on the tour about the main topic (Hawke’s Bay wine for us) but you will also get inside information on local cuisines, history and almost anything that interests you about the region. 

Unique Experiences 

Some tours will enable you to experience certain activities that are simply not possible without insider knowledge from locals or special access through a tour company’s long standing relationships with local organisations. These experiences can include behind the scenes tastings at wineries which are not open to the general public or access to private land for natural experiences such as the access road to the Gannets in Hawke’s Bay. One of our customer’s favourite is to join an evening progressive winery dinner – Something totally unique that can not be organised without our established contacts. 

Book Hawke's Bay Wine ToursWhat we recommend – When visiting a new region book a tour. Use a locally owned company and book direct through their website or by emailing. To book a Hawke’s Bay wine tour use the link here.  

Avoid international chains and support locally owned businesses

This one can be a little controversial. Sure, big international chains contribute to the local economy by creating jobs and they often provide a service that local suppliers can not – such as bigger hotels. But locally owned accommodation can often lead to an extra level of local interaction with you hosts that money just can’t buy.

If you really want to support the local economy during an economic recession then find locally owned businesses, support them, spend your money with them safe in the knowledge that your money will stay local instead of going offshore.

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