Central Auckland business owners are frustrated with a slow trickle of customers, disruptive construction, and an uptick in crime.
The once vibrant CBD is lined with empty shops as businesses are forced to close.
Businesses that have survived without tourists have started to wonder how much longer they can last, according to an Auckland property developer.
“Commercial bay was constructed with the whole retail component based on tourism,” he said. “We desperately need more tourists, but we need quality tourists who actually spend money – not backpackers who pollute the country and don’t spend any money.”
One retail manager worries that once the tourists arrived, the ongoing construction wouldn’t leave much to see. “It’s going to go on for ages,” she said. “Even getting the tourists back, what are we going to show them? Road works.”
A number of businesses said the city rail link construction, alongside other smaller projects, put them at risk.
A jeweller said his business had only survived by chance.
“There’s an element of luck, because you can’t predict what major infrastructure works might affect you,” he said.
“It hasn’t really affected our business, but for other people it’s been a nightmare.”
Having worked in the city for decades, many of the projects had been a long time coming he said .
“Twenty five years ago people were saying there wasn’t enough change,” he said….