'Australia's got some work to do' - tourism expert says more progress needed before trans-Tasman bubble can open

An Australian tourism expert reckons the nation needs to get back on its feet before it opens up for travel with New Zealand.

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Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway says Australia needs to open its domestic borders before opening up to New Zealand. Source: Breakfast

Just a few weeks ago a trans-Tasman bubble trial was being touted to begin this month, but hopes are fading as Covid-19 cases continue to explode in parts of Australia including Victoria and New South Wales.

In one of Australia's biggest cities, Melbourne, people have gone back into a six-week lockdown.

Yesterday, its state, Victoria, saw a surge to a new daily record of 317 new cases of the virus, as well as two more deaths. The total number of cases for the state is now more than 4700 and its death toll is 29.

Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning a trans-Tasman bubble is worth a lot of money for both sides.

However, he added that Australia needed to get back on its own feet first.

"It is starting to come back here but I think we need to see a more open domestic market, we've got to have fully opened domestic borders I think before the trans-Tasman route thing can begin.

"The concept of the bubble, I think that can's been kicked down the road for a short period in terms of what's happening here at the moment."

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The Prime Minister said it was up to Australia if we could have a state-by-state bubble, but while Victoria was still battling Covid-19 she wouldn't risk New Zealand's gains. Source: Breakfast

Mr Westaway said an Australia-New Zealand bubble was an obvious market, though - one which leans emotionally and economically more to the New Zealand side.

"It's a big market, a 3.2 million visitor market between the Australian and New Zealand traffic in terms of two ways. From the Australian side it's around about a $2.6 billion market value and it could measure in fact at larger intake on the New Zealand side because the Australians do come in slightly larger numbers across the ditch," he said.

"I think there was a lot of anticipation, probably pent up demand, for us to see if we can get this bubble going. I think what the reality is, and I think reality's kicked in, is that we'll see the opportunity for that to emerge in the back end of this year - I think the last quarter of this year is really probable."

Mr Westaway said it was more hopeful as Qantas and Air New Zealand get back on their feet.

"We're starting to see the building blocks. There's a bit of work to do on this side of the ditch, we've got to get community transmission of Covid much better under control, I mean, they're not US numbers but obviously the numbers are significant.

"You've got to be somewhat optimist but it's hard to be sometimes because the situation's not flash, but that said, I think people do want to travel, people want to move around, I think it's just a matter we've just got to get through this virus and Australia's got some work to do."

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Jacinda Ardern repeatedly stated it was also up to Australia to feel comfortable about opening its borders. Source: 1 NEWS