Wellington airport looked like a party this Monday to welcome tourists, who They set foot in New Zealand again. An announcement that comes three months ahead of schedule and two years after a total blockade of its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A real relief for this couple separated between the United States and New Zealand. “It’s amazing! We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” says the woman. Her husband continues: “It’s been two years of wondering when and if we would see each other again. We didn’t even know if it was going to hpen. We started our relationship not knowing if we would see each other again,” she tells RFI.
The professionals of marine tourism They also plaud the announcement. Kevin O’Sullivan is the president of the New Zealand Cruise Association. For him, this reopening comes just in time.
As of midnight on Sunday, all the country’s borders were reopened. Photo: AFP file
“The last time we saw a cruise ship in New Zealand it was in march 2020. But the next it arrives next week, on August 12, so it’s very exciting. However, losses they are quite large. The industry is typically worth between $300 million and $400 million a year. So it’s a loss of about $800 million to the New Zealand economy,” he stresses.
Public concern about Covid-19
Among the visitors there are tourists, but also foreign students, mostly Asian, who will be able to return to New Zealand universities. A lucrative income for the country, which represents more than three billion euros a year.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provides information on covid, in the winter of 2021. Photo: AP
Although the reopening of the borders was eagerly awaited, the population still worried due to pollution during the austral winter. In July, more than 400 people died from Covid-19. A record since the start of the pandemic.
a slow return
The final phase of the reopening of borders began at midnight local time on Sunday, with the maritime border and visa plications allowing for all foreign visitors.
In any case, the executive director of Tourism New Zealand, Rene de Monchy, anticipates that business will recover slowly compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“The return of international tourism is expected to take time as people around the world gain confidence to travel“, said.
“Tourism New Zealand is working hard to encourage visits from key markets to drive the recovery of tourism and support the country’s economy.”
One of the most anticipated returns is that of cruise tourism. Photo: AP
Tourism including cruise lines, estimated to first arrive at Auckland Pier around mid-August, and international students they used to be big contributors to the New Zealand economy.
Before covid-19, tourist spending generated $25.7 million for the treasury during the 12 months prior to March 2020.
In the same period, tourism contributed 16.4 billion dollars directly to GDP, equivalent to 5.5%.
With information from AFP and RFI Wellington correspondent Richard Tindiller