New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of a quarantine-free Australia-New Zealand travel bubble has been described as a “step in the right direction” for the beleaguered tourism industry.
In two weeks, Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand without mandatory quarantine requirements for the first time in more than a year.
The tourism and accommodation sector are among those hardest hit by international border closures and travel restrictions that have been in place for more than 12 months in the fight to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson described the announcement as a “step in the right direction”.
“With a new quarantine-free environment of both sides of the Tasman for travellers we will finally see the struggling hotel, hospitality, tourism and visitor economies of both nations benefit,” Johnson said.
“The opening of NZ will also allow us to begin to fine-tune our international arrival and departure systems once again in preparation for the rest of the world once worldwide and Australian vaccinations are successfully rolled out.”
The New Zealand PM announced that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia would start on Monday, April 19, but warned travel would not be what it was pre-pandemic.
“And those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’,” Arden said.
“People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak.”
Qantas announced it will operate up to 122 return flights a week to New Zealand once the two-way travel bubble comes into effect later this month.
Virgin Australia said it had suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until October 31.
“While the airline remains committed to Trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations,” a Virgin spokesperson said.
Virgin Australia suspended scheduled New Zealand services in March last year.
Tourism is a one of the major growth drivers for the Australian economy, generating $60.8 billion indirect tourism gross domestic product in 2018-2019.
The sector also directly employed 666,000 people nationally, making up 5 per cent of Australia’s workforce.