The Government is bringing forward the date for opening the border to tourists in time for the Australian school holidays, in a move that will help accelerate the economic recovery from COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.
From 11.59pm Tuesday 12 April, Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand isolation-free, and then two and a half weeks later from 11.59pm Sunday 1 May, vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries such as the large tourist markets of the UK, US, Japan, Germany, Korea and Singapore, and those with valid visitor visas, will be able to arrive.
“Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we’re highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it’s now safe to open up,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help spur our economic recovery in the short term and is good news for the winter ski season.
“Trans-Tasman travellers have historically made up 40 per cent of our international arrivals, with around 1.5 million Australians visiting each year.
“While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today’s announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many over the last two years.
“In a world still battling COVID-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go in the short term. Our strong health response including the lowest death rate in the OECD over the past two years and our high rates of vaccination, alongside our reputation as a beautiful place to visit, will be an asset in this market.
“I am proud that New Zealand is a country which is able to provide a safe place for tourists to return to due to our strong health response to COVID-19.
“We can see from our record export prices for our goods that New Zealand is in demand internationally at the moment. A big focus of the rest of this year will be encouraging the world to buy our goods and to visit.
“During my international engagements throughout this year, I will be helping to lead the charge to accelerate growth in our top export sectors – primary industries and tourism – by encouraging people to buy New Zealand made, and to come and enjoy our hospitality.
“An earlier reopening for tourism, and the air travel that brings, also increases capacity for our exports, helping to lower freight rates and the flow-on costs of goods that stems from that.
“We know that traveller numbers will be below pre-COVID levels for awhile and tourism globally will take time to rebound, but today’s announcement means were we’re ready to go, so haere mai welcome back,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Tourists will not need to isolate on arrival, they will be required to have had a pre-departure test, with two further rapid antigen tests on day 0/1 and 5/6.
Prior to COVID-19, tourism contributed 5.5 per cent to GDP, bringing in about $41 billion altogether, international making up $17 billion of that. It was also responsible for 8 per cent of our national workforce.
Further advice will be received shortly on options for non-visa waiver travellers, which are currently due to come in from October.