Coronavirus: 'Time will tell' long-term economic impact on New Zealand - Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern says much of the economic fallout from coronavirus is out of New Zealand's control, and that the temporary ban on travellers arriving from China will only have a "marginal" extra impact.

Starting Monday, any foreign traveller coming from, or transiting through, mainland China, will not be allowed into the country. New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, as well as their immediate family members, will still be allowed in, however they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

The Prime Minister says that although the outbreak will negatively affect New Zealand's economy, the majority of that comes from measures imposed by foreign governments and airline companies.

"The advice we've had from MBIE [the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment], they have told us they believe these additional measures will have a minimal effect over and above what we're already seeing anyway," Ardern told The AM Show on Monday. 

More than 300 people have died so far from the virus, with all but one of those deaths occurring in China. 

The city of Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak - has been placed in lockdown, and China has suspended all overseas group tours in a bid to stop the spread.

"From tourism's perspective the decision by China to cancel group bookings or group tours... that obviously will have an impact - and our ministry for business, they estimate that the impact over and above is still marginal from there," Ardern said.

Although tourism operators here have already reported seeing cancellations, Ardern says it's too early to know the long-term consequences on the industry.

"It's very hard for us to quantify at the moment - we don't know whether or not people are delaying their travel to later dates, or whether or not our tourist operators will see an overall reduction, so time will tell on that."

Last week, Waikato University's China-New Zealand Tourism Research Unit director, Chris Ryan, told RNZ it wasn't just immediate cancellations that were of concern to the industry, but it was possible China's GDP may decrease due to the impact of the virus. That could mean that less Chinese have the money to travel to New Zealand.  

"If in fact the Chinese economy is hit then I think that will reduce the number of people likely to come to New Zealand because we are seen as expensive and there are many significant, cheaper and equally attractive destinations that the Chinese would go to," Prof Ryan said.

Ardern said the Government was already considering ways to buffer the losses. 

"We are looking at ways we can counter, we might use some of the funding that was promoting New Zealand into China to promote into other markets, to make sure we keep those numbers up," she said. 

"The fact that we haven't had a confirmed case of coronavirus in New Zealand of course, that means at least that people will be looking around at some of those things as well."

Over the weekend, Air New Zealand announced that all flights on its Shanghai-Auckland route would be suspended until March 29. That follows moves by other airlines that have also stopped China-bound flights.

Despite travellers from China being banned from entering New Zealand, Ardern said exceptions would be made for airline personnel.

"We acknowledge of course that they have to be able to continue to move around between our borders, and so with the use of personal protective equipment, which most airlines are of course engaging anyway, then we've been able to build in exceptions for them." 

There have been more than 14,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far worldwide - the majority of which in China.

As of Monday, there have been no confirmed cases in New Zealand.