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Challenges remain . . . Waitaki events advisory board chairwoman Jan Kennedy. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

It appears to have been short but sweet for tourism operators in the Waitaki district this holiday period.

Waitaki Tourism Association (WTA) chairwoman Jan Kennedy, who also manages Steampunk HQ, said visitor numbers had been good, but a little bit quieter than last year.

There had been a lot of families holidaying in the district and more from the North Island than other years, Mrs Kennedy thought.

Mrs Kennedy said despite a drop-off in visitors since January 8, the Victorian precinct was still ‘‘relatively busy’’.

‘‘We’re really impressed by people and their attitude togetting out and supporting businesses like [Steampunk HQ].’’

The WTA would be talking with every tourism business over the next few weeks, to find out how they were getting on, and offering assistance if needed.

‘‘We’re realistic Omicron will get out, and we potentially will see ourselves closed for some time. That’s going to be the hard time as to whether businesses are going to be able to weather the storm.’’

The WTA was offering complimentary memberships through to April for all businesses. Mrs Kennedy said she knew the Waitaki Valley had also been very busy, but again it was for a shorter period.

‘‘We’re optimistic that if [Omicron’s] not around in the next little while, then once the kids get back to school, then there will be a lot of retirees travelling.

‘‘We live in an unpredictable world, and we can only do what we can do at the time.’’ There was still a lot of optimism in the community, she said. ‘‘I think everyone feels we’re doing better than we could’ve been.’’

Whitestone City and Oamaru and Waitaki Visitor Information Centre coordinator Carolyn Lewis said there had been about 2700 visitors through its doors since Christmas Eve, compared with 2200 for the same period last year.

Of the out-of-district visitors in 2021, about 40% were from North Island and 50% were from Christchurch or further south, Ms Lewis said.

Rose’s General Store and Information owner Wendy Simpson said there had been quite a good number of travellers over the holiday period, but it had quietened off this week, ‘‘drastically’’.

‘‘Hopefully then we get the second wave of people coming up that take their holidays after the others,’’ Mrs Simpson said.

She had also noticed a good amount of North Island visitors who were ‘‘stunned’’ by Oamaru’s beauty.

‘‘One thing that was a bit of a problem was the lack of cafes open on New Year’s. It would be nice if some of them worked together — maybe ‘you do Christmas, I do New Year’,’’ she said.