Australia hopes to commence travel to New Zealand by September
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham is hoping that Australians would be able to travel to New Zealand again by September if the coronavirus flare-up in Victoria is brought under control, says a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
As Australia’s $60 billion-a-year tourism industry reels from the global pandemic, the governments from both countries have discussed plans for a travel bubble that would allow travel across the Tasman without mandatory quarantine.
Simon Birmingham said on Friday that despite the flare-up of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, it was viable for quarantine-free travel between the two countries to reopen in September.
“That’s a realistic time frame, however, it clearly is subject to uncertainties like the situation in Victoria and ultimately it requires the agreement of the New Zealand government as well,” he said in an interview to Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’m confident that things will be ready on our end by then. It does, obviously, from their end, depend on seeing us succeed in getting Victoria back under control and delivering them complete confidence in all of our systems.”
Birmingham said that Australia would be ready as soon as New Zealand was.
Earlier this week New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden put the ball in Australia’s court, saying it was up to the country to decide whether it would only open to New Zealand as a whole country or consider just opening some states that had COVID-19 under control.
“Obviously where there is a community outbreak that is a no-go for New Zealand,” she said. New Zealand lifted all restrictions on travel and activities on June 8 after reporting no active cases of COVID-19 in the country.
New Zealand was the most popular destination for Australian travellers prior to COVID-19, with 1.5 million trips across the Tasman in 2019, which accounted for 40% of all visitors to New Zealand. New Zealand was the second largest source of visitors to Australia in 2019 after China, with 1.4 million travellers accounting for 15% of the arrivals into the country.