Lynda Keene Lynda Keene

‘Intention dates’ for border

If Australia reopens its border to long haul visitors in 2021 and New Zealand does not, this country will lose the window of attracting those international guests for another five years, the 250 strong audience at a tourism conference in Auckland heard last week.

Lynda Keene, chief executive officer of Tourism Export Council (TEC) NZ, says many international travellers have dual destination itineraries. ‘They generally might have 15 days in Australia

and another 15 days in New Zealand. If Australia is open and new Zealand is not, the travellers will simply book a 30 day Australia holiday and New Zealand will be off the list for years to come.’

Keene says having ‘intention dates’ from Government for the reopening of the border is critical.

‘Bookings and commitment to travel don’t happen overnight. Airlines need to put routes back on their schedules and offshore wholesale agents and New Zealand inbound (operators) need to reignite bookings sitting in the system. A six-month lead time would be optimal, however we would take three to four months if that is what is on offer.’

She says it is crucial the industry presents a united front to Government when suggesting a phased safe return of long haul international visitors.

‘The industry needs long haul visitors to begin arriving from 1 October 2021, not in 2022.’

She says it’s a long way to 1 October 2021 or 2022 and some more businesses are not going to survive. If the borders start opening in October next year, though, there are businesses who will just hold on with bare bones operations. ‘They will limp to the start line.’

Keene adds the responsibility of the tourism sector is to be prepared as possible and demonstrate New Zealand is a Covid safe country.

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