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HomeGeneral TourismOne month on and the trans-Tasman bubble ‘a cracker’ for Wellington

One month on and the trans-Tasman bubble ‘a cracker’ for Wellington

Australian visitor numbers to Wellington are down on pre-COVID levels but those that have come are certainly happy to open their wallets during the first month of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Quarantine-free travel between Wellington and Australia launched on April 19. During the first month, 19,000 travellers from across the ditch arrived at Wellington Airport – about 25 per cent of an average pre-pandemic month.

However, MBIE data- revealed Australian spending on credit and debit cards in the city sat at about 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels – and even higher in regional Wellington. WellingtonNZ chief executive John Allen says the statistics show Australians are spending more while in the city and wider region.

"We know anecdotally that there have been quite a few business travellers taking the opportunity to enjoy Wellington’s hospitality alongside those who travelled to visit family and friends.

"The bubble has created a fantastic launching pad for Wellington as it heads into a full-on winter season of events. There’s New Zealand’s largest food festival Visa Wellington On a Plate, the craft beer Mecca that is Beervana and Te Papa’s world class Surrealist Art: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

"Then there’s an All Blacks test against Australia at Sky Stadium, the World of WearableArt season at the TSB Arena while Jersey Boys has just started its season which runs until 7 June. They are all compelling reasons for Australians to consider a visit to Wellington."

John says the city isn’t relying solely on its world class events calendar to reel in Australian visitors.

"WellingtonNZ launches its Wellington Welcome tourism campaign in Australia on May 31. It takes a classic Kiwi humour approach which sees Wellington literally roll out the welcome mat for our Aussie neighbours. It features some of the best views, attractions and tasty treats on offer in Wellington."

The lead role in the 30 second video is played by up and coming Wellington comedian Tim Stannard.

His character is aptly named Matt.

The $280,000 Wellington Welcome campaign rides on the back of Tourism New Zealand’s humorous Stop Dreaming about New Zealand and Go campaign launched in Australia earlier this month and will feature in digital media, targeting primarily New South Wales. Sofitel Area general manager Raymond Faulkner says the trans-Tasman bubble has been a very welcome milestone for the accommodation sector.

"We have seen an increase in visitors from the Australian market and are expecting this to increase even more towards end of the year. A lot of our guests tend to be corporate and government and we are seeing trans-Tasman businesses take the opportunity to visit in person again."

Wellington Culinary Events Trust chief executive Sarah Meikle says more Australians are enjoying Wellington’s hospitality outlets but started with more of a trickle than a wave.

"We know that there has been a return of some corporate regulars which is great news. That, and the travel bubble in general, has helped boost Kiwis confidence about dining out and the future.

"We have also been getting direct enquiries from Australians looking to attend Visa Wellington on a Plate and Beervana. The Aussie momentum is building as Wellington looks to rebound from COVID."

First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson says Wellington businesses have really missed Aussie tourists and business visitors who have always been an important part of the capital's retail and hospitality economy.

"Our first wave of visitors has definitely seen people eager to connect with whĬÅnau – and that's been especially welcomed by the hospo sector who've been proud to be part of this unique piece of history.

"Australian visitors can look forward to new shopping and dining destinations, enthusiastic retailers and hospitality operators and that trademark 'Wellington experience' that guarantees memorable experiences others just can't replicate."

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