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Record annual fall in border crossings – Stats NZ

Arrivals and departures across the New Zealand border saw record annual falls in the year ended March 2021, due to COVID-19 border and travel restrictions, Stats NZ said today.

There were 319,700 border crossings in the year ended March 2021, made up of 127,600 arrivals and 192,100 departures. In contrast, in the year ended March 2020 there were 13.6 million border crossings, made up of 6.8 million arrivals and 6.8 million departures.

Border crossings include all arrivals and departures, either for short-term trips or longer term, and by people living overseas or in New Zealand.

“Full COVID-19-related border and travel restrictions, beginning in mid-March 2020, have seen annual arrivals and departures in the year ended March 2021 fall to levels last seen in the 1960s,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam says.

“People’s ability to travel was limited due to border and travel restrictions, along with capacity restrictions in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.”

Border restrictions have allowed New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, and their families to return, along with other traveller groups granted exemptions from border restrictions.

Of the 127,600 arrivals in the year ended March 2021, 63 per cent (80,100) were New Zealand citizens.

This share is up from the previous five March years, where an average of 42 per cent of arrivals were New Zealand citizens.

Of the 192,100 departures in the year ended March 2021, 71 percent (136,300) were by non-New Zealand citizens. This share is up from the previous five March years, where an average of 58 percent of departures were non-New Zealand citizens.

“Border crossings fell to extremely low levels in the year ended March 2021. However, provisional data from April 2021 have shown an increase in arrivals and departures with the opening of two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia,” Tehseen  says.

Provisional border crossing data up to May 9, 2021, shows an average of 22,000 arrivals and 18,500 departures each week since two-way quarantine-free travel opened with Australia on April 19, 2021. Roughly 90 per cent of arrivals and departures are from, or to, Australia.

“Weekly border crossing numbers since 19 April 2021 are well up compared to earlier in 2021, when weekly arrivals averaged 3,000, and weekly departures averaged 3,300,” Tehseen says.

Overall, arrivals and departures are at much higher levels than in the same period in 2020, but well down on 2019 levels, which were above 60,000 a week.

Since April 19, 2021, about 60 per cent of arrivals and departures each week have been New Zealand citizens. Australian citizens made up roughly 35 per cent of arrivals and 30 per cent of departures.

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