Tens of thousands of visitors to New Zealand will be relieved that they now have some chance of returning home before the lockdown ends, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says.

“We welcome the announcement from Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters as international visitors are in lockdown all over New Zealand and the stringent domestic travel restrictions mean they could not get to an international airport to connect with one of the few remaining international flights,” TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.

“Publicity overseas about visitors being stranded in New Zealand was threatening to harm our international reputation. TIA has been highlighting their situation to the Government and we are pleased that a solution has been found to help those who want to get home.”

Mr Roberts notes that it may be some weeks before all those who want to are able to leave New Zealand, as it will depend on how many international flights are available.

“There will be a heavy reliance on special repatriation flights. Only three airlines are currently operating outbound commercial passenger flights, all from Auckland Airport – Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways.

“While they are still here, I urge all Kiwis to continue showing manaakitanga to our visitors. As our Prime Minister says: Be kind.

“Just as we hope that New Zealanders stranded overseas are being treated well in their host countries, so we should treat those who have found themselves locked down here, far from family and friends.”

Further details about the repatriation plan are available at www.covid19.govt.nz  International visitors should contact their Embassy or High Commission for further advice.

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