Experts call for foreigners with economic benefit to be allowed into New Zealand

The pressure is piling up on the Government to allow foreigners back into New Zealand who can prove they will provide an economic benefit.

There is growing concern the longer New Zealand waits, the more money the economy will miss out on from international students, film industry heavyweights and superyacht owners.

The superyacht Ganesha was on its way to New Zealand where it was coming for a three-month refit and then planning to stay on until next year's America's Cup.

The crew were prepared to quarantine for two weeks offshore before the boat came into the country but instead turned around and headed back to Europe.

It was expected to pour more than $2.7 million into the New Zealand economy.

Newshub understands it's one of four superyachts that have cancelled plans to come here and another 11 are also considering it, which would lose New Zealand millions of dollars.

Superyachts are the biggest economic advantage to holding the America's Cup with 122 booked to come, but now no one knows just how many will show up.

The teams competing in the competition are also fighting to get exemptions to get into the country.

American Magic's boat is set to arrive in Auckland in the next few weeks. They're desperate for the crew to follow and will happily pay for quarantine costs.

"You're not going to find a more motivated group to adhere strictly to the guidelines that are set forward for us," says yachtsman Terry Hutchinson.

He says they can provide a positive economic impact in New Zealand.

It's the same message from the education sector which wants international students let back in - and Auckland's Mayor Phil Goff is leading the campaign.

"International education, $2.8 billion a year to the Auckland economy, we've got to start looking at those opportunities to get that economic recovery," Goff says.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford is in charge of allowing essential workers into the country.

The bar for an exemption is very high, so far only 154 people have been granted them.

"They have to have skills or expertise that cannot be filled within New Zealand and there has to be a wider economic benefit in terms of jobs," he says.

American producer Jon Landau is one of the few who has made the cut.

He arrives in New Zealand this week to make the Avatar movie sequels with James Cameron and will restart the $3.3 billion film industry which provides 74,000 jobs.

NZ Initiative chief economist Eric Crampton says there is great potential if the Government will allow those providing economic benefit back into the country.

"It isn't just a 'get back to where we were' scenario which is like a dream for other parts of the economy, it's 'we've got a real opportunity to grow here'." 

While no one wants to compromise our plans to eradicate COVID-19, neither do we want to let billions of dollars slip out of our hands.