Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram.

New Zealand tourism operators are ready with open arms to welcome back Australian visitors, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram, as New Zealand also moves to level Orange in the traffic light system at 11.59 pm tonight.

As New Zealanders adjust to the new Orange regulations, including no vaccine passes, mask free customers and no seated and served regulations, Australians can now travel here quarantine free. They will be followed on 1 May by guests from visa waiver countries, including the USA, UK, Europe, Japan, Korea and Singapore bringing to an end two years of border restrictions.

“This is an exciting time for tourism businesses around the country as they step forward, setting their sights on a successful ski season, then summer 2022-23,”
Ms Ingram says.

Restaurant Association relieved

“The industry is reporting forward bookings are gaining momentum, and there’s definitely a more positive feeling about the future and the opportunities to rebuild businessess,” says Marisa Bidois, Restaurant Association CEO.

“The move to orange is a huge relief for the hospitality industry which continues to struggle under the red level restrictions.

“The removal of the seated and separated rule along with increase to gathering numbers is a major step forward in our path to revival and recovery,” says Marisa Bidois.

“Our March member feedback survey indicated that businesses continue to struggle with 90 per cent of respondents saying their revenue is down on 2021 with the average revenue decrease sitting at 34 per cent.

“Many diners continue to stay away at the red level so we are hopeful that the removal of number limits and the seated and separated rule will give a boost to consumer confidence and ease some of the challenges our industry has been facing.

Marisa Bidois, CEO, Restaurant Association of NZ.

“Hospitality venues are places we go to relax and often to socialise with others, particularly in bars and clubs so to know that people are now able to do that will be very welcome.”

Christchurch Airport Manager, Communications, Yvonne Densem says both Air New Zealand and Qantas have added additional services into Christchurch this week, and almost all 16 flights are full, with more to come.

“Our view is the attractions of the South Island are all still here and ready for visitors. We are looking forward to saying ‘welcome back cobber!’ more often.”

GO Rentals is experiencing good bookings for the upcoming school holidays in April and also for the ski season in July, especially out of the Queenstown office, says Chief Operating Officer James Daglish.

“Internationally, we are seeing great business from Australia, with solid business already coming through from Europe. Other international markets are still a little reserved at this stage.”

Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer Sarah Derry says people love to travel, and the hotel provider has seen a steady increase in bookings since the 16 March announcement that Australians can visit New Zealand again.

“The increase is driven by Queenstown and Auckland destinations. Bookings in April reflect a desire for Australians to reconnect with family and friends as soon as possible, and we are seeing booking trends which suggest Australians want to make the most of the upcoming winter ski season in Queenstown.”

Ms Ingram says the opening of the borders will breathe life into New Zealand’s cities and communities.

“Tourism is not an island – it’s connected to so many parts of our economy and our communities and the return of visitors will make a positive difference to many people.”

As tourism gears up to reconnect with the world, she thanked New Zealanders who have helped keep many businesses across the motu afloat over the past two years by trying new experiences and exploring destinations they hadn’t visited previously.

“Kiwis are such an important part of our tourism industry, not just as domestic travellers, but because of the manaakitanga and warm welcome they extend to international visitors.”

Ms Ingram say TIA anticipates a slow and steady return of visitors, with people visiting friends and family first following by Australian and US visitors.

“We know there are people around the world who have continued to dream about a holiday in New Zealand, however TIA’s Recovery Roadmap suggests it could be 2-3 years before we find our ‘new normal’, meaning new levels of demand and travel patterns.”

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