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Progression of trans-Tasman bubble offers lifeline to tourism industry

New Zealand must move quickly to make the most of Australians’ enthusiasm for trans-Tasman travel, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

A proposed trans-Tasman border plan is advancing fast, with a draft to be presented to New Zealand and Australian governments for consideration in early June, according to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.

“It’s great to see the progress being made to open the trans-Tasman travel bubble,” says TIA chief executive Chris Roberts. “TIA has had representation on one of the work streams leading this project, and a very robust proposal is being brought together.”

“Officials and ministers will need to respond quickly, as every day matters for businesses who need access to customers, and for family and friends wanting to connect.”

Chris says there is no doubt Australians will visit when they are able to do so: 13 per cent of Australians indicated they would like to visit New Zealand before the end of the year if travel restrictions are lifted, according to a survey carried out for the Australia Tourism and Transport Forum.

Newgate Research conducted the nationally representative online survey of over 1500 Australian residents in early May, exploring community sentiment regarding travel and leisure as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease. Two in five people surveyed expected to travel overseas within the next 12 months, with New Zealand by far the most likely destination.

“New Zealand is a clear favourite, with a third of those wanting to travel overseas identifying New Zealand as their preferred destination,” says Chris. “New Zealand is seen as no riskier than travelling interstate within Australia, while there is a lot more apprehension about travelling to other destinations that have not been as successful in containing the virus.”

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, New Zealand was a popular outbound travel destination for Australians with 1.5 million visiting in 2019, accounting for 40 per cent of all international visitors to New Zealand.

“The sooner we can safely welcome our Australian visitors again, the more jobs and businesses we will save across New Zealand,” says Chris.

He says we should consider whether we can also safely include the Pacific, which is hugely reliant on links with New Zealand and Australia. “New Zealand must also be prepared to open its borders as soon as it can to other countries which have the virus under control, and which can demonstrate they can facilitate safe travel.”

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