Australian and New Zealand residents will be able to travel between the two nations without having to quarantine from 19 April. The announcement, 6 April, of the opening of a travel bubble between the two countries was welcomed by the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and by Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) in New Zealand.
New Zealand travellers have been allowed to enter most Australian states without quarantine for several months already, though this had not been reciprocated.
ATEC said the bubble would help to re-establish some of Australia’s long term travel relationships and mark the first step in reopening Australia’s export tourism industry to international visitors.
“Our industry will be very happy to hear that a travel bubble has been agreed between the Australian and New Zealand governments which will see one of our most significant markets back online,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“Australian tourism businesses, like those across the world, have suffered severely with the closure of international borders and this marks an initial step towards re-establishing our AUD$45bn (US$34.3bn) annual export industry. Thousands of tourism businesses across the country have suffered a severe drop in their income with the closure of international borders and many are simply holding on for announcements like this,” Shelley added.
A recent ATEC survey of the export industry showed Australian inbound tour operators (ITOs) were suffering under the international border closures with 80% operating with less than 10% of their pre-Covid revenue.
“While our tourism product supplier members are doing their best to turn to the domestic market and are working hard to make ends meet, ITOs are only staying afloat with the help of the federal government’s travel agent grants programme now that the JobKeeper subsidy has ended.
“Without the re-opening of borders or the certainty provided by ongoing government support, a large number of ITOs will be out of business within months, taking with them a significant pipeline of forward bookings made by international travellers and millions of dollars in revenue,” Shelley said.
Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) in New Zealand said that opening the borders with Australia was essential to ensuring the sector’s economic future. “Australian clients are telling us they want to meet and do business person-to-person in New Zealand, and we can’t wait to welcome them back,” the association’s chief executive, Lisa Hopkins said.
The economic value to New Zealand of Australian business event delegates is estimated at NZ$225m (US$158.2m) in direct spend per year and, on average, each Australian delegate spent a total of NZ$1,800 in New Zealand in 2019, averaging four nights in the event region, and another two nights elsewhere within New Zealand.
BEIA has identified $38m in direct spend from Australian-based conference organisers looking to host an event in New Zealand between mid-2021 and the end of 2022.
Both Australia and New Zealand kept Covid infection rates low. Australia has recorded 909 deaths since the pandemic began, while New Zealand has reported 25.
Photo: Mount Cook, New Zealand, by Miles Holden