There is Light at the End of the Tunnel

The Government's announcement that the Auckland boundary restrictions will be eased before Christmas is the first glimmer of light at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel for tourism operators both in the city and around the country, Tourism Industry Aotearoa said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Aucklanders will be able to leave the city from 15 December to 17 January if they are fully vaccinated or have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of travel. It will also be possible to travel into Auckland when meeting the same conditions.

That will be a huge relief to accommodation providers, transport operators, tourism activities, attractions and retailers who have been suffering the loss of their largest domestic market, TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said.

“It is also fantastic that family and friends across New Zealand will be able to get together at Christmas and New Year – provided they are double vaccinated.

“The impact on Auckland businesses from being in lockdown is brutal and obvious. But it has also gutted tourism and travel activity right around New Zealand.

“As our largest centre of population, Auckland has a huge influence on domestic travel around the country. Just one example was the immediate and dramatic reduction in the number of visitors in Queenstown when Auckland's borders closed.

"Now that we have a date, which provides the certainty that businesses crave. We expect an immediate confirmation of travel plans from the 15th December and operators will be cancelling the bookings they have from Aucklanders before that date.

“With the signal that we are open for the summer holidays, it means operators can plan to hire staff, buy supplies and gear up their operations over the busiest time of year,” Roberts said.

Auckland's tourism operators, after three months of closure, will also be ready to welcome fully vaccinated visitors to the region, as well as Auckland residents.

The tourism industry is now eagerly awaiting Government decisions on loosening restrictions on Aotearoa New Zealand's borders, which the Prime Minister said would be announced: "in due course."

“The world is opening up and New Zealand risks being ignored and left out if we don’t signal to international markets very soon when safe travellers will be welcomed back to our shores,” Roberts warned.