Monday, May 27, 2024

Welcome mat out for international tourists

New Zealand is back on the world map for international tourism and business travellers as the country opens up to visitors from around 60 visa-waiver countries who enjoy freer travel here from today.

Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash and Immigration Minister, Kris Faafoi say the welcome mat is out for citizens of visa-waiver nations who, like Australians, can now travel here without isolation restrictions if they are vaccinated and complete a pre-departure and arrival test for COVID-19.

“Thousands of passengers are touching down today on around 25 flights at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch international airports as New Zealand opens up further for business,” said Minister Nash.

“Our Reconnecting Strategy is about even more than reuniting family and friends, it is a crucial part of strengthening our economic recovery. We are a safe place to visit, and in a world still battling COVID-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go.

“Today marks a milestone for visitors from our key northern hemisphere markets in the USA, UK, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada and others, who can now jump on a plane to come here.”

Direct flights will arrive today from places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, as well as airports closer to home in Australia, Nadi, and Rarotonga, the Minister said.

“We are currently seeing around 33,000 arrivals per week and we know today’s changes will further boost arrivals as interest in travel to New Zealand remains high. International flight searches to NZ are running 19 per cent higher than pre-COVID (March-April 2019).”

“Later this year major international airlines like Emirates, Air Canada, Malaysian Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, LATAM Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui are restarting routes. Air NZ is also adding long haul routes from San Francisco, Honolulu, Houston, New York and Chicago.

“Our tourism destinations are amongst the world’s best. The industry knows there is a rebuild ahead. International travel will be very competitive and airlines will take time to build up their schedules and routes.

“However today is a day to celebrate, and is a big moment in our reconnection with the world,” said Mr Nash.

The further phased opening up of New Zealand’s borders to visa waiver countries builds on earlier steps to welcome back overseas travellers, said Minister Kris Faafoi.

“Thousands more visa-waiver travellers and those with existing visitor visas will be able to join vaccinated Australian visitors, temporary work visa holders, and student visa holders who still meet their visa requirements, who are already able to come to New Zealand,” he said.

“This adds to our re-opening plans which mean up to 5,000 international students are able to come to here for the second semester of the academic year.

“We have also accepted over 6,000 applications in just a few weeks from young people seeking Working Holiday Visas since March. They will not only have a great time on holiday here but can work to support our tourism, hospitality and horticultural sectors.

“The government continues to review New Zealand’s Reconnecting strategy to see if and when it might be possible to bring forward final steps of the Reconnecting plan sooner than previously signalled,” Mr Faafoi said.

A list of visa waiver countries and territories can be found here.

More information about international travel to and from New Zealand is here.

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