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HomeGeneral TourismTriple Bonanza rekindling hopes of revival in NZ travel industry

Triple Bonanza rekindling hopes of revival in NZ travel industry

The domestic and international travel restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 pandemic brought the tourism industry to a grinding halt in 2020.

However, the worst seems to be over for the pandemic-stricken travel sector.

Some concrete signs of optimism are fuelling hopes of the sector’s sooner-than-expected recovery from the virus crisis.

The nation’s biggest foreign exchange earner for decades, the tourism industry is reeling from an absence of overseas visitors. The ongoing border closures have put the sustainability of the nation’s recovery from the pandemic at risk, instilling fears of a double-dip recession in the economy.

Despite these headwinds, few bright spots dazzling in the travel industry are easing uncertainty over the sector’s swift return to the pre-pandemic state.

Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble to Become a Reality

The much-talked-about Trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia is expected to become operational by mid-April 2021. The decision for the commencement of the bubble is likely to be taken by PM Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet as early as this week.

Although Kiwi Land and Australia have emerged as star performers in containing the virus spread, the plans for a two-way travel bubble were repeatedly forced back amid sporadic virus outbreaks.

While Australia already permits Kiwis to visit without having to quarantine, visitors are required to do so on their return to Kiwi Land, making the initial set up less attractive for travellers. The opening of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble will allow quarantine-free travel between both nations, enabling Aussies to freely travel to New Zealand.

The plan is to divide airports into green and red zones, with the former allowing free and open travel, while the latter demanding travellers from the rest of the world to quarantine or transit. The New Zealand Cabinet committee is still discussing the paper around the final form of the bubble.

Travel Juggernaut Flight Centre Joins TAANZ

The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand has garnered the support of the nation’s renowned travel company, Flight Centre Travel Group. For the very first time, FCTG has accepted the offer to join TAANZ that has been trying for months to gain government support for travel agents grappling with COVID-19 repercussions.

Flight Centre’s decision has arrived as welcome news for the nation’s travel sector amid its well-earned reputation and influence on the travel marketplace. Collectively, FCTG and TAANZ have agreed to fund $100K to support the travel industry’s lobbying effort to get additional government assistance.

As a form of support, the government launched a consumer travel reimbursement scheme in October last year, which has already retrieved around half the money lost in travel bookings owing to COVID-19.

Travel agents have been calling for an extension of this scheme as billions of dollars’ worth of travel bookings have not yet been retrieved.

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Gathers Pace

No doubt, the travel industry is betting on the effective rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, which will pave the way for the safe reopening of international borders. Interestingly, some 27K people have already got their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, marking a solid start to the nation’s biggest ever vaccination program.

Over the next three to four months, the government intends to vaccinate about two million Kiwis who are most at risk of spreading or getting the virus or becoming seriously sick from it. The government plans to prioritise hard-hit south Auckland for vaccination drive, which has been the centre of two consecutive outbreaks in recent months.

Notably, the government has bought enough of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccines. Recently, it signed an agreement to purchase an additional 8.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on top of already procured doses. The latest order brought the total to 10 million doses, which is sufficient to fully vaccinate 5 million people with two shots.

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