Tourism boss says New Zealand could be left behind if we don't open our borders soon

A tourism boss says if we don't open our international borders soon we risk airlines choosing not to fly here in the future.

"Other countries are opening up and there's only a limited amount of air capacity. If we want to be left without the opportunity to have airlines flying into New Zealand - that's bad for business, that's bad for Kiwi travellers," says Flight Centre New Zealand managing director David Coombes.

The Government hasn't yet set a date on when our border will open but already in parts of Australia vaccinated passengers are entering the country without having to quarantine.

A recent Flight Centre New Zealand survey shows almost 88 percent of its customers want to travel internationally in the next 12 months.

"I think there's no doubt that Kiwis are ready to travel again," says Coombes.

In terms of long-haul travel, the Flight Centre survey found the UK and Europe is the number one destination of choice, followed by Asia and North America.

With regards to short-haul travel, the survey shows the top five destinations Kiwis want to visit are Queensland, Cook Islands, NSW, Victoria and Fiji.

The Cook Islands has announced that two-way quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will resume on January 14, 2022.

Fiji will open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists from December 1, 2021 but at this stage, Kiwis heading to Fiji will still have to quarantine when they return to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand says it has a large number of passengers booked to travel to Australia over the Christmas break.

"We're hopeful we might be able to get those people to their destinations but we're also mindful that we may unfortunately have to cancel some of those services if we don't see any change to the border," says Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

Geraghty says the airline has been flying a large part of its international schedule for the duration of the pandemic because of a Government cargo scheme ensuring supplies can get in and out of the country.

"As soon as we get the green light to be able to carry more international passengers - we're ready to go," she says.

Air New Zealand has a 'no jab, no fly' policy on international flights. It says the majority of customers have indicated they only want to travel with double-vaccinated passengers.

"Travel will be different and I think this is one of those moments in time. We had a change in travel with 9/11 when security became much more heightened and I think we will see a similar change that's here with us for quite a period of time," says Geraghty.

She says that will include pre-departure tests, arrival tests and verification of vaccination.

Coombes doesn't believe the cost of travel will rise.

"Airlines and travel providers are keen to get customers back in because they need the revenue and they're keen for customers as much as anybody so it's going to be a competitive environment," he says.