Oamaru’s two travel stores have closed their doors.
House of Travel Oamaru officially closed last week, while Flight Centre Oamaru has not reopened since the lockdown, although staff have continued to work from home.
House of Travel retail manager Antony Boomer said the “difficult decision” had been made to close the Oamaru store and merge the business with its Dunedin operation.
“The unprecedented situation New Zealand faces as a result of Covid-19 has impacted many businesses, especially in the tourism industry,” Mr Boomer said.
“We are confident that merging the two stores will allow us to best service our clients throughout the North Otago area and we are ready to help them explore the world again when the time is right.
“House of Travel Oamaru has been an integral part of the local community for many years and, although there will no longer be a physical presence, House of Travel will continue to fully embrace and support our Oamaru customers as it has done for many years.”
In an email to customers, House of Travel managing director John Harley confirmed the loss of three Oamaru staff members.
“They have all been integral members of our team and we will miss them all greatly.”
Customers who had existing bookings or were awaiting a refund would be referred to a Dunedin-based consultant, he said.
A Flight Centre New Zealand spokeswoman said its Oamaru store was one of 58, out of 130, that had been permanently closed due to Covid-19.
The Oamaru branch’s staff would continue to work from home, the spokeswoman said.
“International travel made up the majority of our bookings prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why it has hit us so hard,” the spokeswoman said.
“However, we have noticed a strong uptake in domestic bookings, with a 124% increase in online views of our domestic packages when Level 2 was announced.
“It’s a great time for Kiwis to explore their backyard and enjoy everything that this stunning country has to offer.”