25 Nov 2021

Youth Hostel Association to close its hostels after 89 years

5:22 pm on 25 November 2021

The Youth Hostel Association will permanently close its 11 hostels from next month.

Youth Hostel in Hereford St, Christchurch

Photo: Youth Hostel Association / yha.co.nz

The YHA said the extended Auckland lockdown and no prospects of an international visitors this summer left the association in an unsustainable financial position.

The 11 hostels owned by the association will close from 15 December after 89 years of operation.

The association is also linked with 23 other individually-owned properties around the country which will continue to operate as normal, Cartwright said.

In late 2020, YHA completed a restructure to carry the organisation through to a hoped for recovery this summer.

It doubled the number of domestic guests over the past year but it had not been enough to offset the loss of international tourism.

YHA general manager Simon Cartwright said the national board and senior management had worked closely with YHA's primary lender to ensure all prepaid bookings were fully refunded and staff entitlements were retained through the closure period.

"YHA staff have been incredible during extraordinary times," he said.

"It is an ending none of us wanted but we want to make sure we exit in a way which ensures our people are not left out of pocket."

The YHA-managed hostels to close next month are: YHA Auckland International, YHA Rotorua, YHA Wellington, YHA Christchurch, YHA Lake Tekapo, YHA Aoraki Mt Cook, YHA Wanaka, YHA Queenstown Central, YHA Queenstown Lakefront, YHA Franz Josef and YHA Te Anau.

"This is a sad time for our staff, our members and our industry," Cartwright said.

"YHA has been a cornerstone of youth travel in New Zealand for 89 years. It has evolved with the fast moving changes of the industry and lead industry thinking both domestically and among the international network.

"YHA was looking forward to a bright future in 2019 having just opened a new hostel in Tekapo. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has just gone on too long for us to be able to ride it out.

"Today is a sad day for tourism in New Zealand."

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash described the loss of the hostels as sad news.

Nash said it was a tough day for all those involved in the hostels.

He said it was a shame the closing date coincides with the opening of the Auckland border, when increased domestic travel by vaccinated people is anticipated over Christmas and summer.