The full economic impact of opening a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia still isn’t clear at this point, but New Zealand tourism operators can expect a boost, Jacinda Ardern says.
Speaking on Breakfast today as the trans-Tasman bubble opened, the Prime Minister said by the start of 2022, Tourism New Zealand expected the numbers of Australian visitors to New Zealand to rebound to about 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
This represented a “good solid boost” for tourism, she said. But, at first, travel would mostly be made up of family and friends wanting to reunite.
“At this stage, our expectation, naturally as you’d expect, would be that family and friends are using the chance to come back together,” Ardern said.
“I expect, over time, we’ll see that tourism number grow.”
She said tourism operators in the South Island could also expect an increase in visitors from between July and September as the ski season kicks off.
“We’re already seeing those bookings, so that does suggest we will see those tourism numbers pick up.”
For now, though, it was “hard to know” the full impact that would eventually end up having on the economy, Ardern said.
She said the next step was to open up a travel bubble with Pacific Island nations, with a bubble with the Cook Islands expected after they set up their PCR testing system.
After opening up to the Pacific, she said the Government may then consider travel bubbles with countries in Asia.
“Right now, though, our focus is the Cooks in May, and Nuie picking up that full two-way as well.”
It comes as Australia begins to explore its options for a travel bubble with Singapore.
Ardern said if New Zealand “had concerns at that point, there are things we can do to mitigate”. For example, people who have travelled from Singapore may be required to stay in Australia for a period of time before they’re able to come to New Zealand.
Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand said yesterday they were expecting to fly about 10,000 people on trans-Tasman routes today.
In 2019, Australians made up 40 per cent of visitors to New Zealand and spent about $2.7 billion locally.