Surge on Australian travel expected if bubble opens

  • 21/03/2021
New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are already open to New Zealanders, quarantine-free.
New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are already open to New Zealanders, quarantine-free. Photo credit: File Image

Travel agents are expecting a surge in demand for overseas trips if the government opens up a two-way travel bubble with Australia, while travellers hoping to watch New Zealand's Olympians compete in Tokyo have had their hopes dashed.

The Prime Minister has refused to name a date for a decision on quarantine-free travel across the ditch. But a proposal could be in front of Cabinet as early as Monday, and RNZ understands the government is working toward a bubble opening next month.

New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are already open to New Zealanders, quarantine-free, and the New Zealand government is considering reciprocating so travellers can come here without spending 14 days in an isolation facility.

If and when a decision is made, airports and airlines are ready to go, and New Zealand businesses will welcome the inbound international visitors, says the House of Travel's chief operating officer, Brent Thomas.

While he expects the initial numbers may not be as high as pre-COVID levels, he says there will still be many people likely to grab the opportunity with both hands, including those with family in New Zealand.

The widened bubble is also expected to open up all Australian states to travellers from New Zealand, which should also encourage more travellers heading west across the Tasman.

"There'll certainly be people who would typically go to other destinations who will see Australia as the opportunity to head over there, having been 12 months now without actually getting away.

"We're expecting there'll be a lot of demand from that initial wave once the borders are given the green light by the New Zealand government."

Any influx of travellers could bring big benefits for tourism, Thomas says.

"It's a two-way play, and that's what makes the alliance profitable and makes a route viable, is to have both passengers going both ways and cargo going both ways.

"From New Zealand Inc point of view it's important that we get the inbound coming from Australia. There's a lot of places around New Zealand who have been decimated because they haven't had the tourism."

Queensland border restrictions lift

New Zealanders arriving in Queensland this morning do not have to go into quarantine.

In late February the state re-imposed quarantine restrictions on travellers who had been in New Zealand in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 cases connected to Auckland's Papatoetoe High School.

But Queensland's chief health officer reinstated the one-way Tasman travel bubble last night, and New Zealand regained its safe-travel country status.

The first travellers to arrive in Brisbane from New Zealand touched down about 6pm local time yesterday. And from midnight those in hotel quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test result were free to leave.

Hopes dashed for travel to the Tokyo Olympics

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has expressed its disappointment on behalf of the 1600 New Zealand fans who were hoping to travel to this year's Tokyo Games, after it was confirmed international spectators won't be allowed to attend.

The Japanese government and Games organisers have made the call to ban foreign supporters from the Games, to limit the risk of spread of COVID-19.

NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith says although this situation is frustrating for fans and athletes, the NZOC understands the reasoning for the decision.

She says while New Zealand athletes thrive on knowing friends, whānau and fans are in the crowd, they will have to rely on support from back in New Zealand this year.