New Zealand loosens COVID travel regulations

New Zealand will open its borders to travellers from Australia as well as visa holders today. The country has been

New Zealand loosens COVID travel

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – Photo: Forbes

New Zealand will open its borders to travellers from Australia as well as visa holders today.

The country has been effectively closed off from the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 but is now opening 12 weeks ahead of schedule. New Zealand and Australia executed similar public health responses, with strict border controls and domestic elimination policies until the fast-spreading Delta and Omicron variants forced the governments instead to aim for co-existence with the virus. Complementary COVID-19 policies allowed New Zealand and Australia to operate a travel bubble between April and July 2021, a situation that will return until New Zealand fully opens its international border in May.

The border opening will be welcome news for New Zealand’s tourism sector–travellers from Australia make up approximately 50% of all international arrivals into the country. The sector lost approximately a third of its jobs in 2020, and revenue from international visitors declined by 91%. While the opening of New Zealand’s borders is likely to ease the tourism industry’s troubles in the long-term, any recovery will be a slow process due to the rising cost of living and heightened travel prices, slowing consumer momentum in the medium-term.

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