Tourism industry calls for clarity on border reopening plans

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Tourism operators are calling for the government to give them more clarity about when borders will be opened again.

A deserted international arrival area at Auckland Airport while the city was in level 3 lockdown in May.

File photo.
Photo: Brett Phibbs / PhibbsVisuals

In December, Cabinet agreed in principle to establish a travel bubble with Australia in the first three months of this year.

While the news was welcomed, those in the tourism industry said they needed to ensure there was enough time to get ready for an influx of overseas visitors.

The managing director of the Scenic Hotel Group, Brendan Taylor, said it would take two to three months for the airlines to ramp up, if the borders reopened.

He said operators needed time to prepare and ensure they have enough staff to cater for incoming guests.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s chief executive Chris Roberts said it would take time to prepare for the return of international visitors after such a devastating blow – and it wouldn’t be as simple as flicking a switch and everything returning to normal.

He also said finding staff to fill empty positions would be particularly challenging.

“We have to get staffed up again, because 40 or 50,000 jobs have disappeared from across the tourism industry and those are good people who have, on the whole, found jobs elsewhere.

“So there’s a challenge to get the workforce built back up again.”

As well as the proposed travel bubble with Australia, a quarantine-free travel corridor between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is expected to open up by the end of March.

Currently, the Cook Islands are Covid free.

However, recent community outbreaks of Covid-19 in Australia have resulted in new restrictions and border closures between New South Wales and Victoria.

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