Australia and New Zealand to consider cross-border travel bubble

Australia and New Zealand to consider cross-border travel bubble

Wellington, New Zealand (CNN) – It may take some time before tourists travel the world again. But what if you can browse the designated and approved parts?

Politicians Australia and New Zealand are discussing the possibility of opening their borders to each other, creating a travel corridor – or “travel bubble” – between the two nations.
“If there is one country in the world we can reconnect with first, it is undoubtedly New Zealand,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. said last month.
“This is a situation we all would like to be in, but of course our number one goal right now is to make sure that our two countries are in the position where we manage Covid-19 nationally to the point where we can confidently open borders, “New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said April 27.

“One thing I am not prepared to do is to jeopardize the position New Zealand has entered into by moving too early to open our borders – even in Australia.”

It is unclear when this “bubble” could become a reality – currently the two countries still have restrictions on domestic travel, and all international arrivals are subject to a 14-day quarantine.

Travel industry experts say August is the time when the lane will likely be rolled out, perhaps in time for the New Zealand ski season and the school holidays in September.

A privileged relationship

There are a few reasons why New Zealand and Australia would be the first choice of each other.

Although the two countries are separated by about 2,000 km (1,243 miles) of sea, they have one of the closest bilateral relations in the world. Holders of an Australian passport can travel and work in New Zealand indefinitely without a visa, and vice versa.

The two countries also contribute strongly to the tourism industry of the other.

Australians make up almost 40% international arrivals to New Zealand and around 24% of international visitors to New Zealand. This is particularly important in New Zealand, where tourism is the country largest export industry. (Tourism is considered an export industry because it implies that foreign cash is used to buy goods and services in New Zealand.)
New Zealanders reconcile in Australia 15% international visitors to the country, and only about 6% of international visitors spend. Tourism is still worth billions in Australia, although it is only the country fourth export industry.

In both countries, the tourism industries have been hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic – so it is not surprising that industry representatives welcome the prospect of a travel bubble.

“The message from the industry side is that the bubble is active,” said Simon Westaway, executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, adding that this was the only way to bring international tourism to Australia into a near future.

“If we can add the Australians, it would be extremely beneficial for the survival of tourism businesses and thousands of jobs,” said Chris Roberts, general manager of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, which represents the tourism industry in New Zealand. He added that the amount spent by tourists in New Zealand has dropped by at least 2 billion New Zealand dollars ($ 1.22 billion) per month.

But Roberts doesn’t expect the levels of Australian tourists New Zealand had before Covid – he thinks many would choose to simply travel within the country.

In Australia, some tour operators had focused their attention on China, which represents around 15% of travelers to Australia but 27% of total tourism spending. Westaway said these businesses should adapt and find ways to attract more Kiwi travelers.

How would it work?

One thing to keep in mind: Australia is made up of states and territories, and some of them currently have additional quarantine rules in place. For example, someone traveling from Sydney (in New South Wales) to Brisbane (in Queensland) would need to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine period.

Airports may also need to deploy new procedures.

Roberts envisions a future where tourists could show up at the airport, get tested for Covid-19, and be allowed to fly only when they test negative. Once at their destination, their temperature can be checked. Travelers may need to provide more information than usual so that they can be found easily, if necessary.

Roberts and Westaway believe the hangout would only work if the current 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering the country were removed.

Once the trans-Tasman bubble has been tested, New Zealand may seek to include other territories in its bubble – perhaps Taiwan and Hong Kong, said Roberts.

“I think it will be country by country,” he said. “A general opening of the borders could be very long.”

Could the bubble grow?

For the first time, drones have been allowed to fly inside Kakadu National Park in Australia. The resulting video is magnificent.

There are also plans to expand the bubble to the Pacific Islands.

From a health perspective, the Pacific island nations appear to have escaped the largely unaffected coronavirus epidemic. Fiji – the most affected island nation in the Pacific – reported only 18 cases of coronavirus and no deaths. Guam – which is an American territory and not a nation – has reported more than 140 cases of coronavirus and five deaths.

Many Pacific Island countries closed their borders early to protect themselves from possible spread.

Ardern called for caution regarding the inclusion of the Pacific, stating, “Our neighbors to the Pacific have largely been unhappy with Covid-19, and the last thing we would like to do is risk that.”

But expanding the travel bubble in Australia and New Zealand to at least some Pacific islands would help boost the island’s tourism industry, said Stephen Howes, director of the Development Policy Center at Australian National University at Canberra.

“For many people, it is very difficult,” he said of the effect on tourism in the Pacific. “Some have returned to their village … people are just struggling to get by.”

“Obviously, no country would be forced to do this,” he said, adding that the transport corridor could still be stopped if it did not work. “It would be a complex undertaking … but it is certainly worth a try.”

And including the Pacific would also help Australia and New Zealand, allowing migrant workers to enter both countries. Inclusion could also have a huge impact on soft power in the region, which is of strategic importance to New Zealand, Australia and China.

“This is a real test,” said Howes. “If Australia and New Zealand go ahead and just have a trans-Tasman partnership, they could really upset the Pacific. It would be like,” you don’t really care. “”

Roberts agreed that the bubble would benefit the Pacific, saying that without tourism, their economies were in great trouble.

“In terms of economic aid to our Pacific neighbors, it would be the best thing we could do for them – as long as we could do it safely.”

Is this the future of travel?

A possible travel bubble in Australia and New Zealand could become a model for the rest of the world, according to Roberts and Westaway.

Like other countries in the world, New Zealand and Australia will have to be careful not to go too fast and create a second Covid-19 wave.

Going too fast could also damage their image with international tourists, who see countries as clean and trustworthy places.

But generally, Roberts and Westaway are hopeful.

“If (the detail) can be settled between New Zealand and Australia, then they can also be applied to other places,” said Roberts.

“There is now a lot of attention given to this part of the world due to the apparent success of New Zealand and Australia in containing the virus epidemic. If we can also find a way to resume travel between countries, I’m sure the rest of the world will be very interested in how it works. “


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