If you're following updates on the two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble, Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern has announced on Monday, 14 December, that the cabinet is finally allowing quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia. This is great news for the travel and tourism industry, especially as it suffered huge losses this year.
After several months of tough restrictions and lowdown, travel is slowly opening up thanks to the NZ-Australia two-way travel bubble. Before booking your flights to OZ, here are some fast facts you need to know about this travel bubble.
New Zealand and Australia aim to start the trans-Tasman bubble by the first quarter of 2021. The initial estimate is by early March, but nothing is still finalised as of the moment. As much as possible, both countries want to roll it out before the summer holidays end.
PM Ardern announced the quarantine-free travel across the Tasman two days after it announced the travel bubble with Cook Islands. It hasn’t recorded any single case since the pandemic started, so it’s a big move for the country.
While New Zealand and Australia aim to finalise the details of the quarantine-free travel before Christmas, it may not be feasible. They need to coordinate with different agencies to ensure everything is on the same page before opening the borders.
Since New Zealand restricted international travel in March, this is the first initiative of the country to open up. However, they’re still keen on taking risks as New Zealanders’ health and safety comes first before income from tourists.
The two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble will finally reciprocate Australia’s lifting of quarantine restrictions for Kiwis coming to OZ. Since October 16, Kiwis don’t need to undergo 14-day hotel isolation when they go to New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Apart from New Zealanders, only Aussies returning home are allowed for international travel. Even then, they need to isolate themselves for 14-days. This makes the trans-Tasmnan travel bubble all the more significant in opening international travel without health restrictions.
New Zealand is one of the biggest business partners of Australia, so the initiative of the travel bubble has been on the talks since May this year. This is also the reason why Australia has stepped forward to allow quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders.
When NZ announced the approval of the travel bubble, the Australian government was more than ready for it. They have been working on their COVID measures to give the NZ government confidence in this quarantine-free travel.
New Zealand has an impeccable record of only 25 deaths in their 5 million population. They were able to reach and maintain this through a series of hard lockdown measures and early precautions. However, the same isn’t true for Australia.
There have been several outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney, but it was contained soon after. If an outbreak ever occurs in OZ, the NZ government needs to prepare and secure their isolation facilities for the influx of Kiwis returning home.
The travel bubble is a big step in returning international travel to normal. Businesses can finally resume their operations, families can finally be together, and friends can finally meet. Most of all, it’s a big step for the travel and tourism industry.
Australia is the biggest tourism market in New Zealand, accounting to over 1.3 million visitors last year. On the other hand, NZ is the second biggest tourism market of OZ, accounting to over 1.4 million visitors — only lagging behind China.
According to AU’s Tourism Industry Council Managing Director Simon Westaway, it’s more likely Australians will travel more than New Zealanders. This means OZ may not reap as much revenue from the travel bubble. However, Westaway said it’s still a positive sign.
The NZ-Australia two-way travel bubble can be a good test on their plans to open more travel bubbles in 2021. Some of the most likely bubbles to form with Australia are Singapore, Japan, and provinces in China.
Although nothing is still set in stone, Virgin Australia has just announced more than 70 services to New Zealand per week, starting 28 March 2021. In line with this, they gave a notice that these services may still get adjusted depending on the policies of respective governments.
One of the most important arrangements that airlines need to ensure is their crew’s arrangement. They may need to require some of their crews to only make flights between these two countries. This way, they can guarantee the safety of both Kiwis and Australians.
Aside from crew management, airport officials also need to designate safe zones, exclusively for Kiwis and Australians. This is to segregate them from travellers in countries with high infection rates.
New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is set to visit Auckland Airport to start planning for this. Together with the airport’s management, they’re looking for most feasible ways to separate Australians from other travellers.
One of the biggest reservations for the trans-Tasman travel bubble is a possibility of outbreaks in both countries. Flights may get cancelled at the last minute, and the travel bubble may be subject to suspension or halt altogether.
This is to guarantee the security and safety of citizens of both countries. Plus, this prevents further transmission of the virus and higher mortality rates. Australians and New Zealanders may need to keep this in mind whenever they travel.
If you have important business, friends, or family to visit in Australia, keep yourself updated. Get notified on the news of this quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel bubble. Snag the best unlimited mobile plan and stay connected.
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