Government reopens New Zealand for tourism

The opening of the border to tourists has been brought forward, in a move that will help accelerate the economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Government is bringing forward the date for opening the border to tourists in time for the Australian school holidays, in a move that will help accelerate the economic recovery from COVID-19.

From 11:59pm Tuesday 12 April, Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand isolation-free, and then 2 and a half weeks later from 11:59pm Sunday 1 May, vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries such as the large tourist markets of the UK, US, Japan, Germany, Korea and Singapore, and those with valid visitor visas, will be able to arrive.

Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 2 years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we are highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it is now safe to open up.

Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help spur our economic recovery in the short term and is good news for the winter ski season.

Trans-Tasman travellers have historically made up 40% of our international arrivals, with around 1.5 million Australians visiting each year.

While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today’s announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many over the last two years.

In a world still battling COVID-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go in the short term. Our strong health response including the lowest death rate in the OECD over the past 2 years and our high rates of vaccination, alongside our reputation as a beautiful place to visit, will be an asset in this market. 

New Zealand is a country which is able to provide a safe place for tourists to return to due to our strong health response to COVID-19.

Record export prices for our goods show that New Zealand is in demand internationally at the moment. A big focus of the rest of this year will be encouraging the world to buy our goods and to visit.

An earlier reopening for tourism, and the air travel that brings, also increases capacity for our exports, helping to lower freight rates and the flow-on costs of goods that stems from that.

We know that traveller numbers will be below pre-COVID levels for awhile and tourism globally will take time to rebound, but today’s announcement means we are ready to go, so haere mai welcome back.

More information

  • Tourists will not need to isolate on arrival, they will be required to have had a pre-departure test, with two further rapid antigen tests on day 0/1 and 5/6.
  • Prior to COVID-19, tourism contributed 5.5% to GDP, bringing in about $41 billion altogether, international making up $17 billion of that. It was also responsible for 8% of our national workforce.
  • Further advice will be received shortly on options for non-visa waiver travellers, which are currently due to come in from October.

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