Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: PR Dept
Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult signalled the re-opening of the town’s tourism industry today with a dawn Bungy jump from AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand’s Kawarau Bridge.
Mr Boult and AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand co-founder Henry van Asch were among the first jumpers this morning as New Zealand moved into Alert Level 2 and Bungy opened its Kawarau Bridge Bungy Centre following the seven-week COVID-19 lockdown.
“I’m delighted to be able to mark the reopening of the home of Bungy, even if it means jumping off a bridge first thing in the morning,” Mayor Boult says, noting this wasn’t his first time taking the Bungy leap.
“But seriously, it’s wonderful to see so many businesses in our area opening back up. Though these are tough times for all businesses across the district, we’re embracing Alert Level 2 and the cautious reopening that it is allowing. We are still the country’s premier visitor destination, with a recent poll showing Queenstown as the number one tourist destination for New Zealanders, closely followed by Wānaka at number five. That enthusiasm for local travel will bring a much-needed boost to our local economy and the thousands of locals that will benefit from the return to work this will deliver. I look forward to welcoming visitors to our district from across the country.”
Bungy co-founder and managing director Henry van Asch says the move to Alert Level 2 and reopening of the Kawarau Bungy site is a positive step that deserved acknowledgement.
“We’re very realistic about the long, tough road ahead but we thought it was important to mark the occasion with, literally, a big leap forward.”
Mr van Asch says the Kawarau Bridge is the first of two Queenstown sites that will reopen under Alert Level 2. From Saturday, the Ledge will also open timed with the reopening of the Skyline Gondola.
Today both the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower operations will open, as will Taupo Bungy.
“Getting a few of our sites open today is a big boost for everyone. We’ve been operating Bungy for more than 30 years – some 11,800 days on site – and these past 50 days of lockdown has been the only time, apart from Christmas, that we’ve closed since 1988.
“With no clear idea of when the international market might return, we still have a long way to go as we work towards long-term sustainability for our business and re-sizing is inevitable. But we’re thinking and looking forward to what Bungy and Queenstown can be into the future.”
Mr van Asch says the pandemic, while catastrophic for New Zealand tourism, provides an opportunity to rethink tourism.
“There’s been a feeling that we’ve had too many visitors to New Zealand for some time, so it’s important we make the most of the opportunity to re-create tourism – and look towards an industry that not only contributes to our economy but makes New Zealand a better place for all New Zealanders.”
As part of its own reimagining, Bungy will also launch a new product this week – the Bungy Avatar – which gives customers an online taste of a Bungy jump at its Ledge site, located above Queenstown, accessed by the Skyline Gondola.
“While it’s not like doing a Bungy for yourself, it offers people the opportunity to get a taste of Queenstown and the kind of warm welcome they’ll receive here,” says Mr van Asch.
The adventure tourism operator is also – for a short time – offering $88 jumps from the Kawarau Bridge, the Ledge, Taupo and Auckland to reflect the year Bungy opened more than 30 years ago in 1988 and as a thank you to Kiwis for helping bring COVID-19 under control.