NZ tourism operators seek more border certainty
Published: Nov 03, 2021 05:38 PM
A man in a medical face mask walks past the Jack Hacketts Irish Pub on June 23 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: VCG

A man in a medical face mask walks past the Jack Hacketts Irish Pub on June 23 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: VCG


The slight easing of border restrictions for some international travelers is a small step in the right direction, but New Zealand tourism operators need more certainty about the government's plans for reconnecting the country with the world, Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) said.

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts said tourism operators are desperate to know when they will get access to their offshore customers again.

"New Zealand's once thriving tourism industry continues to be the overlooked casualty of the pandemic," Roberts said.

"It's now 21 months since the first border restrictions were put in place. International visitors' spending was previously worth NZ$48 million ($34 million) a day, and the cumulative loss since we closed our borders now exceeds NZ$25 billion."

Given the severity of the crisis, the resilience of tourism operators has been phenomenal, and some have been forced to close but the majority are hanging on, he said.

"However, reserves and resolve are running out," Roberts noted.

New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced last week that arrivals from several South Pacific nations will be able to enter the country without managed isolation and quarantine facility (MIQ) requirements from November 8.

For other arrivals, the time spent in the MIQ will be shortened and followed by a period of isolation at home, he added.

New Zealand tourism operators are hoping for a good Kiwi summer, but the uncertainty over whether New Zealanders will be able to travel around the country is impacting on bookings.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, New Zealand tourism industry has been struggling for survival, since most international visitors were unable to come to New Zealand due to the border restrictions.

China has been New Zealand's second-largest international visitor market since 2012 and one of the most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spending, according to New Zealand's national statistics department Stats NZ.

New Zealand's borders are scheduled to reopen in phases in 2022 once the vaccination program is fully rolled out by the end of 2021, according to the government's latest plan.

Tourism in New Zealand comprises an important sector of the national economy, which directly contributed about 6 percent of the country's gross domestic product prior to ­COVID-19. As New Zealand's biggest export industry contributing 20.4 percent of total exports, it directly employed 8.4 percent of the New Zealand workforce before COVID-19, according to Stats NZ.