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From bunk room to escape room to survive the pandemic

Published: 4 June 2020


Backpackers’ accommodation provider Archie’s Bunker is one of many Napier businesses that rely heavily on a steady stream of international tourists to exist. With the borders closed, owners Lynne and Tinaka Stewart came up with a new plan to see their business survive.

“We have decided to re-imagine part of our building, and our new service is the growing trend of ‘escape rooms’,” says Tinaka.

“Napier needs more all-weather activities for whole families, teenagers and adults. It adds more options for tourists and locals, especially when the weather is harsh.”

Archie’s Bunker took advantage of Napier City Council’s Business Response Fund that was set up to help businesses get through the pandemic recovery period.

They successfully applied for funding to meet the costs of producing new signage and hosting familiarisation visits for the region’s tourism organisations, who will in turn promote it to incoming visitors.

NCC’s $50,000 funding pool was set up in May to support businesses that have lost income due to the reduction in the number of tourists coming to Napier, and the overall fall in spending caused by COVID-19.

Archie’s Bunker was successful in receiving funds because their idea met all the points of the Response Fund and was a way to offset lost income while also providing a unique offering for Napier. There will also be benefits to other Napier businesses, such as cafes and restaurants in the surrounding area who could benefit from increased foot traffic.

Archie’s Bunker is aiming to open its escape room by the July school holidays, but will remain ready to go with its accommodation options once New Zealand’s border restrictions are relaxed.

“Budget accommodation like ours is important for Napier to have at the ready for international visitors, but we need to be innovative to get there,” says Tinaka.

Applications to the Business Response Fund are still open and other Napier businesses are invited to apply. It will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. The fund will be open until 15 June, or until all money has been allocated, whichever comes first. To apply, go to: #BRfund.


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