At the Tourism Export Council NZ Xmas Symposium… Rene de Monchy, Tourism New Zealand; Anna Black, General Travel and chair of TEC NZ; Justin Tighe-Umbers, Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand At the Tourism Export Council NZ Xmas Symposium… Rene de Monchy, Tourism New Zealand; Anna Black, General Travel and chair of TEC NZ; Justin Tighe-Umbers, Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand

Call to be 'more creative on borders' from airlines board

The Board of Airline Representatives in New Zealand (BARNZ) continues to advocate for a two-speed then three-speed approach to travel from source markets depending on their Covid risk profile.

And BARNZ executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers told the Tourism Export Council NZ Xmas Symposium this week that he is still hopeful of an open border to the Cook Islands before

Christmas or just after, and safe zone movement to at least some states of Australia to be announced in the New Year.

‘With the way Australia has things under control there is no reason why it couldn’t happen,’ he says.

He says overall, New Zealand could easily be more creative in its approach to opening the borders taking into account some of the latest risk modelling and improved medical protocols.

Tighe-Umbers says at the moment the country is taking a ‘one-speed’ approach to the borders – everyone must quarantine for 14 days. A two-speed system would see airlines and airports separate travellers from places like the Cook Islands from those arriving from at risk countries. And a three-speed approach would involve testing and potentially reducing quarantine periods depending on the risk factor from specific countries.

‘At the moment everyone goes into quarantine for 14 days, whether they are from low risk Taiwan or high risk New York. It is expensive and it is unsustainable.’

He says there is a raft of options the government could be looking at – including self isolation for travellers from low risk countries, possibly backed up with checks from authorities.’

Vaccine 'no silver bullet'

The promising developments around a Covid-19 vaccine should not be seen as a ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to reopening borders, says BARNZ executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers.

‘There is a lot of uncertainty around this, including how long it will take to roll out a vaccine. While it is a big step forward it won’t in itself make a big difference to the aviation industry.

‘We need to take prudent steps rather than sitting and waiting for a vaccine. A country risk model is still a vital step, not just for (general) economic growth but for a tourism reboot.’

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