Otago Central Rail Trail operators and providers are experiencing a downturn in the wake of Covid-19, but plans are under way to turn that around.

Representatives of the Otago Central Rail Trail Operators Group met on Sunday morning to discuss the effects Covid-19 has had on businesses whose clientele primarily comes from the rail trail.

The emergency meeting was attended by Central Otago District Council representatives, bike tour operators, accommodation providers and a restaurant-cafe representative who discussed the best way forward, while supporting everyone affected.

The meeting came after the Government announced regulations that people must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in New Zealand.

The move has meant that some people booked to do the rail trail would have to cancel, affecting a range of providers, including those who offer accommodation and bike hire.

Otago Central Rail Trail Operators Group chairman Shayne O’Connor said the aim was to “pull together and help each other out”.

“As an operators group we try to think of the whole trail, not just individual businesses.”

People affected by new self-isolation regulations were a “relatively small number” of customers compared with those who were domestic travellers, he said.

“We’re trying to keep it in perspective number.”

Now was “peak season” for the rail trail, he said.

“This is where they make over half their money, in these two months. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for the rail trail operators, really.”

However, the group was optimistic.

“We still have an opportunity to make sure the domestic travellers have a great time and potentially attract more domestic travellers.”

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan attended the meeting.

“It was excellent that the group had the ability to work together to try to make the best out of what is an extremely challenging situation.”

He said economically “we are in for a hard time”.

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