After being shut off to the rest of the world for almost two years, New Zealand is finally embarking on a phased reopening with visa-free tourism to be allowed ‘no later than’ July 2022. Jenny Southan reports
Starting from February 27, Vaccinated citizens in Australia will be able to go home to New Zealand without the need to undergo state mandatory hotel quarantine. (They will still have to self-isolate for ten days but can do so at home.)
The second step will see jabbed citizens from other parts of the world allowed back in from March 13. Next, from April 12, 5,000 international students will be allowed into the country.
Australians and all other visitors who can normally travel visa-free to New Zealand will be to travel to the country no later than July (step four). Finally, from October, all other visitors and students who normally require a visa will be allowed in.
However, for New Zealanders overseas it has been almost impossible to go home as quarantine slots have been extremely hard to book.
Now, about 94 per cent of the country’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and 56 per cent of eligible people have had their boosters.
She added that there was “life before” the virus but “there will be life after Covid too”. “We are well on our way to reaching that destination. But we are not quite there yet,” she said.
New Zealand’s reopening plan for 2022
- Step 1: Fully vaccinated New Zealanders from Australia can return home from 27 February
- Step 2: Fully jabbed citizens from all other countries are able to arrive from 13 March. This also applies to a number of critical and skilled foreign workers
- Step 3: Up to 5,000 international students are allowed into the country from 12 April
- Step 4: Australians and all other visitors who can normally travel visa-free to NZ are expected to be able to travel to the country no later than July
- Step 5: Begins in October and includes all other visitors and students who normally require a visa
In spite of planning to welcome back outsiders, New Zealand has warned it doesn’t want to rely so heavily on tourism in the future. In 2020 it said it wants to focus on attracting wealthy visitors rather than budget backpackers.
According to Tourism Industry Aotearoa, before the pandemic tourism was the country’s biggest industry, making up about 20 per cent of total exports. Tourism spend made up a large portion of the country’s overall economy, accounting for more than 5 per cent of GDP, and directly or indirectly employing 13.6 per cent of the national workforce.