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New Zealand agrees to open travel corridor with Australia

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Auckland, New Zealand, during a deadlock last year.

Photo: Brendon O’Hagan / Bloomberg

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New Zealand has agreed to open a quarantine travel corridor with Australia in a major boost to its ailing tourism industry.

The so-called travel bubble will open on April 19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Wellington on Tuesday. It will restore unrestricted and reciprocal travel between the two neighbors for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close their international borders more than a year ago.

“The bubble will give our economic recovery and represent a world-leading deal for the safe opening of international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy to eliminate and keep the virus out,” Ardern said. “We have worked hard to ensure that travel is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.”

While the resumption of trans-Tasman travel will benefit the economies of both countries, New Zealand is a popular holiday destination for its much larger neighbor and will earn more. Prior to the pandemic, Australian visitors accounted for a quarter of the revenue generated by foreign tourists. Ardern has however resisted pressure to open a bubble faster, citing the dangers of allowing Covid-19 back into the community.

New Zealand and Australia are among the top performers in the global battle against the virus – New Zealand has consistently topped BloombergThe Covid and Australia resistance ranking currently stands third. But both have also suffered sporadic outbreaks that require regional blockades.

Brisbane, Australia’s third most populous city, went into a three-day blockade last week after the UK strain of the virus was discovered in the community.

Flyer Careful ‘

One of the difficulties in creating an international corridor between the two nations has been the way we react when there are outbreaks localized on both sides.

Ardern warned today that travelers should have unforeseen plans if an explosion in Australia forces a travel bubble pause or suspension and does not allow them to return as planned. Visitors will have to comply with any local restrictions imposed, including blockages, and may need to enter quarantine upon their return, she said.

“Travel without quarantine will not be what it was before-Covid-19, and those who travel will do so under the direction of ‘BOOKLET “Be careful,” said Ardern. “People will have to plan for the possibility of travel interruption if there is an explosion.”

Reserves related to tourism gathered on Tuesday in anticipation of the announcement.Air New Zealand Ltd. climbed 6% to $ 1.83 NZ while the camper rental companyTourism Holdings Ltd. gained 5.8% to $ 2.72 NZ. Both have made strong gains in the past month. In Australia,Qantas Airways Ltd. rose 2.7% in afternoon trading.

Dive twice

New Zealand virtually eliminated Covid-19 from the community, allowing its economy to develop a V-shaped recovery from its initial downturn. But it is now facing the possibility of a double-dip recession as the closed border destroys the tourism industry, once its biggest winner of foreign exchange.

The expected influx of Australians will be a big relief for tour operators, especially at ski resorts on the South Island, such as Queenstown when winter is approaching. Prior to the pandemic, about 70% of overseas visitors to New Zealand ski areas came from Australia, according to Austria Tourism.

“Surveys have shown that there is increased demand for travel and Australians have no other options for international travel currently,” said TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts. “But we anticipate that travelers on both sides of the Tasman will be careful until they feel comfortable with the health precautions being taken in both countries. We expect people who will be reunited with family and friends to lead the way, followed by vacationers. “

Travel bubbles were proposed as the way to a recovery in the first months of the pandemic, although they have largely failed to gain traction. New Zealand and Australia initially intended to open a quarantine flight corridor in the middle of last year.

Green Zone

A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore has also been repeatedly delayed, six months after it was proposed, due to additional waves of infections in Hong Kong.

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