The New Zealand Government has reneged on a promise that it would reopen borders and reconnect to the world in the first quarter of 2022 on the condition that the country’s population was 90% fully vaccinated, says the chair of the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ).
Scott Mehrtens who is also managing director of Leisure Time Travel, says this week’s announcement around borders was really just a tinkering of the MIQ situation for returning New Zealanders.
The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand says offshore wholesalers and agents continually question why NZ hasn’t announced a date for when international visitors can return.
‘They are perplexed. Visitors can now book travel to Australia (and most places around the world) and yet New Zealand remains closed,’ says TECNZ chief executive Lynda Keene.
Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) president Brent Thomas says the changes announced to MIQ yesterday now mean that instead of 90% of people who apply for a spot in the system being disappointed, now 80% will be.
‘It defies logic that fully vaccinated people who test negative before they come here still have to spend seven days in MIQ before being able to self isolate,’ says Thomas.
‘It is still a lolly scramble without enough lollies – business travellers still won’t be able to travel and people still won’t have the ability to reconnect with their loved ones.
The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) says it is clear from international feedback that vaccinated travellers will not come to this country if they have to spend time in MIQ.
Chief executive Lynda Keene says the organisation is regularly hearing of countries around the world reopening their borders to welcome back visitors with a range of settings. Common requirements include proof of full vaccination, use of a digital or paper passport to verify travel arrangements, PCR tests, rapid antigen tests, and adherence to contract tracing.
Brent Thomas, president of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ), says the Government's Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World Forum, including announcements from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had plenty of positives for travel agents.
‘We are definitely seeing a shift in terms of self isolation when retuning from low risk countries.’
Thomas says it was encouraging to hear Sir David Skegg, chair of the Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group, talking about borders opening when all New Zealanders have had the opportunity to be vaccinated as opposed to actually being vaccinated.
Inbound tour operators have been specifically recognised at TRENZ Hui in Christchurch as part of the Tourism Communities Plan.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash says $14 million in existing loans from the 2020 Tourism Recovery Package will be able to be converted to grants for the sector. This means 26 ITOs may receive up to $500,000 each.
‘Inbound tour operators (ITOs) provide a vital link to global markets and need to be ready to facilitate the return of international visitors when it is safe to do so,’ says Nash
The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) is urging the Government to help develop a recovery plan for the sector.
TECNZ chief executive Lynda Keene says inbound tour operators have had no income since the country’s borders were closed early last year and have been the most affected sector across the international tourism industry. ‘They are hanging by a thread. We cannot understate how serious the future of NZ’s international visitor economy is. Without financial support and targeted assistance in 2021, ITOs and visitor product and experiences will be forced to close.
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
The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) says it is pleased that the Government has listened to the industry and will offer loans to 26 Inbound Tour Operators (ITOs) from the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection programme.
TECNZ chief executive Lynda Keene says the increase from the initial number of 10 ITOs, on better conditions than originally discussed, will allow those businesses to remain operational.
The organisation that represents New Zealand’s inbound tour operators says it is ‘underwhelmed’ that Government is only looking to extend the wage subsidy for a further two weeks.
Chief executive of the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) Lynda Keene says although the council is pleased there is an extension, an additional two weeks is not going to help businesses trying to plan for the next four months through to Christmas. ‘We were hoping the wage subsidy would be extended to at least 17 October, the new election date.
‘Given the opportunity to provide support for ITO (inbound tour operator) businesses that have had zero revenue since lockdown in March 2020 and tourism operators who are desperately trying to regain losses over the past six months with domestic visitors, the two-week extension seems a little short-sighted and has not provided any certainty for businesses who may face continuous disruptions,’ Keene says.
‘Our members are also struggling with the delay in Government processes to advise STAPP (Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme) recipients about loan terms and conditions – particularly with ITOs still not knowing if they are eligible for STAPP ITO loans (or grants) since the original announcement was made on 1 August 2020.
‘Not having any detail for almost three weeks is creating immense anxiety for businesses that are trying to make decisions on the future of their operations. We urge MBIE to contact TECNZ or its members with information that can assist them with their decision-making as soon as possible.’