Global travellers are now used to taking their laptops or tablets with them and staying online wherever they go . . .and mostly for free.
As wireless internet becomes the norm, travellers expect to be never more than a mouse click away from their friends or business colleagues.
Until they land in New Zealand, that is.
For some reason, some Kiwi hotels charge crazy prices for providing guests with wireless internet in their rooms. A survey of leading hotels has found most charge guests for packets of data or charge up to $45 a day.
Telecommunications Users’ Association chief executive Paul Brislen told the APNZ news service the rates were “astronomical”.
“It’s outrageous … I don’t think hoteliers really appreciate how important [Wi-Fi] is to travellers. It impacts on tourism quite badly, I would suspect.”
The practice of charging guests is more odd because an increasing number of New Zealand cafes offer free Wi-Fi, providing daily passwords to customers who want to go online.
Frankly, visitors would be better off signing up for mobile data plans with mobile operators for the time they’re in New Zealand – the going rate’s about $20 a month for 1GB of data.
Tourism Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden disputes suggestions that charging hotel guests for Wi-Fi is a New Zealand-only practice – he says he’s been charged the equivalentof $30 a day in other countries.
If you’re planning a holiday in New Zealand, and staying online is important, my advice is to check whether a hotel has Wi-Fi before booking your accommodation.
If you decide not to book because of their charges, tell them – it might convince them to change their policy and you’ll be doing future visitors a favour, if nothing else.
You can also download a useful app called Free Wi-Fi Finder that will tell you the nearest free connection to wherever you are in New Zealand.