The hosting of two sports tournaments in consecutive weeks in Ashburton has brought welcome relief for the local economy.
The scrapping of gathering size limits under Level 2 guidelines meant Ashburton was able to host a makeshift junior basketball tournament last week.
The 32-team event attracted about 1000 people to the district which had local accommodation providers all booked up.
Event organisers believe about $350,000 was pumped into the Ashburton economy.
Nearly 170 people from around the South Island are also competing in a lawn bowls tournament in the town this week.
Previously under Alert Level 2, theatres and event centres could only hold events of up to 100 people with one metre social distancing between seated patrons.
The new rules announced earlier this month have no cap on attendance as long as patrons are seated and socially distanced.
Ashburton’s Taylor’s Motel co-host Kay Rogers said they were full last week and this week, largely due to the two sports tournaments.
“For the weekend trade that we’re losing because of Covid, it’s quite nice that these events have been able to go ahead,” she said.
With South Island events facing significant uncertainty as restrictions receive clarification by the Government, Rogers said it was a great relief that both events were not canned.
“It would have been a major loss,” she said.
“We are struggling, it’s not like we’ve recovered.
“If these events didn’t go ahead it would have had a big impact.”
She said about two-thirds of visitors who stayed at the hotel last week were involved with the basketball tournament.
Half of this week’s guests were linked with the bowls event.
Bella Vista accommodation co-host Michelle Clyne said the resumption of events was a significant morale booster following a rocky winter.
“The last eight days, oh my gosh, I’m running and I’m tired,” she said.
– By Adam Burns